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Zimbabwe Police Briefly Detain Opposition Leader - 2002-02-27


Police in Zimbabwe have again briefly detained main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who says the ruling party is persecuting the opposition ahead of next month's presidential election.

A spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change says police held Mr. Tsvangirai for about 30 minutes (Wednesday) over an alleged illegal gathering. However, Mr. Tsvangirai was released and no charges have been filed.

Earlier this week, Zimbabwean authorities charged Mr. Tsvangirai and two other senior members of his party with treason over an alleged plot to assassinate President Robert Mugabe.

Mr. Tsvangirai has denied the allegation, saying it is aimed at preventing him from challenging Mr. Mugabe in the March 9th and 10th presidential election.

The three opposition officials were released from custody after being charged.

The United States, Britain, and other nations have condemned the Zimbabwe government for charging the opposition figures. A U-S State Department spokesman said Tuesday there is no basis for the charges, which he called "just another blatant example" of Mr. Mugabe's authoritarian rule.

Mr. Mugabe -- struggling to maintain his 22-year grip on power -- has been widely criticized for policies seen as stifling the political opposition and civil liberties ahead of the election.

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