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Violence Heats Up in Zimbabwe Election Campaign

Young members of Zimbabwe's ruling party ZANU-PF have been denied bail after being arrested for attacking opposition supporters during the weekend. Violence among supporters of both the ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change has been heating up recently as the campaign for elections gathers pace.

According to the police, the 30 ZANU-PF supporters stabbed a policeman, attacked members of the Movement for Democratic Change and commandeered vehicles from local residents in a small town 30 kilometers north of Harare.

When police arrested one of the assailants, the youths attacked a police station according to a new report in a state-run newspaper.

In a separate incident, rival factions of the MDC clashed Wednesday in southern Zimbabwe during a campaign visit by leader of the party, Morgan Tsvangirai.

According to MDC parliament member Nelson Chamisa, the violence was between supporters of the losing candidate in primary elections and those who support the man who won the majority vote to represent the party in the general election on March 31.

While political violence has been a regular part of Zimbabwe's local and national elections in recent years, it is rare that ruling ZANU-PF supporters are arrested. While thousands of MDC supporters have been arrested since it was formed five years ago, only a handful of ZANU-PF supporters have been detained in connection with political violence in the past two national polls.

The MDC has already started taking steps to make sure the election process moves forward. The opposition party announced it is is going to court in Bulawayp to stop arrests of a group of young officials trying to check the accuracy of the voters roll in one voting district.

In documents lodged at the Bulawayo High Court, the party has asked that police stop arresting its officials checking the voters roll on a house-by-house basis.

The MDC, which has also been refused access to the electronic version of the national voters roll, says it suspects there are hundreds of thousands of duplications, as well as candidates who have been illegally excluded from the ballot.

ZANU-PF has been accused by local and international human rights analysts, including the African Union, of being behind most of Zimbabwe's political violence.