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Zimbabwe Clampdown Continues as Referendum Count Underway

  • VOA News

Polling officials are seen at a polling station during the country's referendum in the capital Harare, Mar. 16, 2013.

Polling officials are seen at a polling station during the country's referendum in the capital Harare, Mar. 16, 2013.

Police in Zimbabwe arrested five people in a raid on the office of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, as early results from a constitutional referendum show widespread support for laws to curb the powers of the president.

Officials say Tsvangirai's director for research and development was arrested early Sunday during a raid at his home. Three aides for Tsvangirai and top human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa were also detained. The reason for their detention is unknown.

Associated Press quotes Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights saying Mtewa is being accused of "obstructing or defeating the course of justice." She had gone to assist Tsvangirai's chief legal advisor during a police raid at his Harare home early Sunday.

Preliminary results for Saturday's referendum show wide support for the changes which limit the president to two five-year terms, as well as increased parliamentary powers.

Eighty-nine-year-old President Robert Mugabe and his rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, both supported the draft constitution. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe for more than three decades, and even under the new constitution, he could remain on the job another 10 years, if re-elected.
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