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ZIMBABWE: Police block opposition protests, cite economic woes

Zimbabwe police fire tear gas at opposition supporters defying protest ban (PHOTO/Agencies)

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe – Police in Zimbabwe has barred protests planned for Monday, August 19, by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the second-largest city of Bulawayo, in southwest Zimbabwe, citing security concerns.

Zimbabwe’s Assistant Police Commissioner, Paul Nyathi, revealed that prohibition orders against any protest marches were issued amid opposition by some business lobby groups.

“Various business groups had also petitioned High Court not to allow the march to proceed as a number of those organizations lost their properties in January when similar marches were held,” Nyathi said in a phone interview.

Marches in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, were, on Friday, August 16, blocked by the police, leading to the arrest of 91 activists.

Police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators who gathered in defiance of the ban. The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights put the number of arrested at 128 people.

The Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, has scheduled a series of protest marches in Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare protesting against the economic decline.

MDC Vice President Tendai Biti confirmed the police ban and revealed that the party will appeal at the magistrate’s court.

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