Police in the Mashonaland West province of Zimbabwe have barred the opposition Movement for Democratic Change from holding weekend rallies on grounds that the party is accused of firebombing police posts and other targets, MDC sources said.
Mashonaland West representative Silias Matamisa of the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai said police told him permission was withheld because the party is "violent." The Tsvangirai faction had scheduled rallies in Mola, Kariba and Chinhoyi.
Officials of the Tsvangirai faction have denied any involvement in the Molotov cocktail attacks which began in March, and say they believe they were carried out by security forces to justify the arbitrary arrest of MDC activists. The faction says hundreds of its members have been abducted, beaten and tortured by suspected state agents.
Rally plans by the opposition grouping met with mixed official responses elsewhere.
Police in Mashonaland Central gave permission so long as there were no “toyi toyi” demonstrations or door-to-door campaigns. Matebeleland North police granted permission, but it was unclear if Matabeleland South police would follow suit.
A youth forum planned in Gweru, Midlands, by the MDC faction of Arthur Mutambara was disapproved because church meetings had already been scheduled.
Mashonaland West MDC representative Matamisa told reporter Patience Rusere that his party would file an application in high court Monday challenging the ban.