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Zimbabwe Police Step Up Pressure on Opposition - 2004-09-09

In recent days, police in Zimbabwe have arrested opposition figures and carried out searches at the offices of opposition organizations.

Early Wednesday, police arrested Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, an umbrella body for various Zimbabwean groups lobbying for a new constitution. The police charged Mr. Madhuku with defying a section of the Public Order and Security Act by holding a demonstration without their permission. He was released after they recorded a statement.

The police also ransacked the head offices of Mr. Madhuku's organization in Harare, and the offices of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second city. The government daily, The Herald, said the police were looking for 'subversive material.'

Police Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena told the newspaper that the search in Bulawayo yielded nothing. Mr. Madhuku says the police also left his organization's offices empty handed.

The opposition's Secretary of Youth, Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa, was also arrested this week. He was detained Tuesday with 13 others for apparently holding an unauthorized meeting in his constituency offices. The law in Zimbabwe requires anyone to seek police permission to hold a public meeting. Mr. Chamisa was still in police custody Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Madhuku, who has been arrested and allegedly assaulted by the police on numerous occasions, told VOA the arrests and searches are harassment by the government, and will not stop the National Constitutional Assembly from holding demonstrations without police permission.