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Zimbabwe Police Detain Opposition Members, Raid Offices - 2002-02-28

In Zimbabwe, more than 30 officials of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change were detained after police and soldiers raided opposition party offices.

A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change said armed Zimbabwe police forced their way into party offices in the capital, Harare, where poll workers were being trained.

In the eastern border town of Mutare, the police, who were accompanied by soldiers, seized almost all of the party's campaign and election pamphlets for the area.

The MDC spokesman said that between 30 and 40 people were detained without charge in the Harare raid, and that no explanation has been provided by authorities.

Police say 37 people have been detained in Harare because they were stoning and beating people in the street. A police spokesman said some of those arrested had tried to hide in the MDC offices.

The opposition party said that intimidation by the police and ruling party has continued unchecked, despite the arrival of foreign observers, with at least 15 supporters being detained in the past two days for putting up election posters.

Reports say a number of others have been beaten up, and vehicles attacked. The MDC said at least one supporter is in critical condition after being tortured by youth militia of the ruling party.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the government will abide by a Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that rejected new laws giving the authorities greater power over voting procedures.

Mr. Chinamasa told state media that amended versions of the laws will be submitted to parliament in April.

President Robert Mugabe, who faces MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the March poll, has said that western countries should, in his words, "Shut your dirty mouths." He told an election campaign rally that the European Union is interfering in Zimbabwe's internal affairs by imposing targeted sanctions.