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Zimbabwe Police Vow to Stop Anti-Government Protests


Authorities in Zimbabwe have warned they will stop anti-government protests that the country's largest labor union plans for Wednesday.

A VOA reporter in Harare says youths and war veterans who support the government are deploying around the capital, while police are setting up roadblocks on all the major roads.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions has called for the demonstrations to protest low wages, high taxes and workers' lack of access to anti-retroviral drugs that fight AIDS. The unions plan to defy sweeping security laws that ban virtually all protests not approved by the government.

On Monday, the government said it is not opposed to raising wage levels, but that the planned demonstrations are unjustified and are political, not economic, in nature.

The unions are allied with Zimbabwe's splintered opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Tuesday, the leader of that party's main faction, Morgan Tsvangirai, accused the government of planning to use brutality and massive arrests to quash Wednesday's planned demonstrations.

Earlier this year, the Movement for Democratic Change made its own call for anti-government protests that have yet to materialize.

Zimbabwe is reeling under the effects of high inflation, record unemployment and severe shortages of food, fuel and foreign currency. The nation's agriculture-based economy has been in a freefall since the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms beginning in 2000.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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