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Zimbabwean Opposition Leader Charged with Disorderly Conduct


Lawyers for Zimbabwe's main opposition leader say he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in connection with his recent tour of the nation's retail stores.

Attorneys for Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai say he was questioned by police for two hours Thursday in the capital, Harare, before he was charged and released.

An MDC spokesman says Tsvangirai led reporters on a tour of retail stores last month after government-imposed price cuts resulted in shortages of many basic goods.

In a written statement, the MDC says the charge against the opposition leader is a violation of his constitutional right to freedom of movement, conscience and association, among other basic freedoms.

Witnesses say that last month's store tour was cut short after an angry confrontation between the opposition delegation and the wife of Zimbabwe's army chief Constatine Chiwenga.

Zimbabwe's Central Statistical Office says the annual inflation rate through July was about 7,630 percent, the highest in the world.

Critics blame Zimbabwe's economic crisis on government policies, especially the transfer of farmland from whites to blacks with little or no farming experience. Agricultural production has plunged since the transfers began in 2000.

President Robert Mugabe blames the crisis on British and U.S. sanctions against his government.

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

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