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Police Continue to Hold Protesters in Zimbabwe - 2002-04-08

Zimbabwean police are continuing to hold more than 60 activists and their leader after arresting them on Saturday for anti-government demonstrations.

A spokesman for the National Constitutional Assembly says police in Harare have denied the organization's chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, and about 30 other detainees access to their attorneys.

The pro-democracy group says 34 other demonstrators also are being held in the provincial capitals of Bulawayo, Gweru and Mutare.

Witnesses says some protesters were herded into the Harare police station bleeding and badly bruised on Saturday.

A police spokesman has confirmed the arrests, saying those being held are accused of violating the Public Order and Security Act under which protests are forbidden.

The National Constitutional Assembly is demanding a new constitution to replace laws it says keep President Robert Mugabe in power. The group says Mr. Mugabe used his powers to fraudulently win last month's presidential election.

The French News Agency AFP quotes Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as saying his party will not cooperate with Mr. Mugabe's government. He told a rally of about 5,000 people Sunday that Mr. Mugabe is sitting as chairman of a "military junta." He spoke in Chitungwiza, outside Harare.

Zimbabwe has been wracked by political violence for the past two years. Human rights groups say the ruling party waged a calculated campaign to intimidate opposition supporters and ensure Mr. Mugabe's re-election.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.