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Harare Mayor Arrested for Second Time in 2 Days

In Zimbabwe, the mayor of Harare, Elias Mudzuri, has been arrested. This is the second day in a row that the mayor, a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has been detained by police.

Mayor Mudzuri was taken to Harare's central police station by police, accompanied by his lawyer.

According to Mike Davies, chairman of a residents' association in Harare, the mayor was arrested as he convened a meeting to discuss new city taxes. Mr. Davies said police told the mayor to leave his office, and when he refused the police took him into custody.

Zimbabwe officials say the order for the mayor's arrest came from Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo. Two months ago, Mr. Chombo suspended the mayor from office, but Mr. Mudzuri challenged the suspension and is waiting for the courts to hear the case.

The mayor had been on leave for six weeks, and his arrest Monday came within hours of his return to work. He was released without charge a few hours later.

Mr. Davies, the chairman of the residents' association, said there was no criminal activity to warrant the mayor's arrest on either day. By arresting the mayor, he added, the Zimbabwe government had demonstrated its contempt for democratic and legal processes.

Minister Chombo was not available for comment. Police told the state media they arrested the mayor as part of their of normal duties.

The arrest coincides with an announcement of new legislation to be introduced in parliament concerning the dignity of the office of the state president.

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says the government will soon be introducing legislation to fine members of parliament who boycott President Mugabe's speeches at the opening of legislative sessions. Under the government proposal, any legislator who does so would be fined the equivalent of six months' salary.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change considers Mr. Mugabe's re-election last year invalid, and when he arrives in parliament, all the MDC legislators walk out.

The MDC is challenging Mr. Mugabe's victory in the courts, saying the election was rigged.