6 June 2003

Zimbabwe: Opposition Leader Faces New Treason Charge

Johannesburg — Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is facing a new treason charge after his arrest on Friday, in a renewed police crackdown on nationwide anti-government protests. A police spokesman confirmed the treason charge to journalists.

Zimbabwe’s Assistant Police Commissioner, Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters "We picked him up in connection with the many statements he has been making since the presidential elections. We are charging him with treason".

Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been holding a week of work stoppages and demonstrations to try to force Mugabe to stand down.

The veteran Zimbabwean leader, in power for the past 23 years, was re-elected in a disputed presidential poll last year, which the MDC said was rigged.

Quoting Tsvangirai’s lawyer, Innocent Chagonda, the French News Agency, AFP, said he had already been charged with treason. It is alleged that he organised and held rallies across the country, urging his supporters to take to the streets to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, said the lawyer.

Chagonda confirmed that Tsvangirai was arrested earlier on Friday and taken to a police station downtown in the capital, Harare. He was expected to remain in custody for the time being.

The opposition leader is already facing treason charges, along with two other senior members of the MDC in connection with an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe.

Zimbabwe

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