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Anti-White Protests Break Out in Zimbabwe - 2004-05-20

A crowd of several thousand ruling party supporters, shouting anti-white slogans, demonstrated Thursday outside Zimbabwe's parliament and then broke into the headquarters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. The target of the protest was the MDC member of parliament, Roy Bennett, who shoved two cabinet ministers during a heated debate in parliament Tuesday.

Early Thursday the MDC evacuated its city center headquarters after being warned that the ruling Zanu PF planned a demonstration. Several thousand, mostly young people gathered outside parliament, carrying posters denouncing Mr. Bennett.

The protesters, shouting anti-white slogans, broke down the front gate of the building while the police were watching.

A committee investigation of Tuesday's scuffle in the parliament, which sparked the demonstrations, was postponed because of continuing tension in the center of Harare. The probe is to determine whether Mr. Bennett, who shoved two ministers during a heated parliamentary debate, should be punished.

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, John Houghton, the elected white mayor of the resort town of Kariba, sent out an alert that he is barricaded in to his home by Zanu PF supporters.

Isolated reports of other disturbances in which whites appear to be the target are also coming in from other parts of the country.

Zimbabwe's white population has shrunk to between 20,000 to 30,000 in recent years and white families continue to leave Zimbabwe to settle mostly in Australia or New Zealand.