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Second Opposition Leader Is Arrested in Zimbabwe - 2003-06-09


Police in Zimbabwe have arrested another leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change on treason charges.

Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the MDC, will spend another night in police cells, after being arrested on Friday and accused of a second charge of treason. Joining him in prison will be the secretary general of the MDC, Welshman Ncube.

A police spokesman said Mr. Ncube is charged with inciting five days of protests against President Mugabe last week. The secretary general of the MDC, who had been in hiding since the arrest of Mr. Tsvangirai on Friday, turned himself in to police on Monday.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Mr. Tsvangirai said they hope he will be formally indicted on Tuesday in the High Court, and that application for bail could be handled shortly thereafter.

The latest treason charges against the MDC leader are in connection with two rallies he held last month, in which the state claims he incited supporters to overthrow Mr. Mugabe and the Zimbabwean government.

Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube, in a case that has been going on for months, are also charged with plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe. Both have denied the charge.

Mr. Tsvangirai's South African lawyer, George Bizos, said the latest allegations were "spurious" and designed to keep Mr. Tsvangirai in custody following last week's opposition protests.

Mr. Bizos asked Judge Paddington Garwe to free the opposition leader on bail to allow his trial on the assassination plot to continue.

The judge rejected the appeal, but said a different High Court judge could consider the request for bail, after Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Ncube had been formally charged in court.

Following last week's nationwide protests against his government, President Mugabe vowed that he would remain in office and accused enemies in London and Washington of organizing the protests.

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