Opposition chief held after clash with rivals

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The Independent Online

Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, was detained and five of his supporters were still in police custody yesterday, according to his party, after clashes with members of the ruling Zanu-PF.

The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change was stopped at a police roadblock in south-eastern Zimbabwe after addressing a campaign rally in Chiredzi, according to Learnmore Jongwe, an MDC spokesman. He said Mr Tsvangirai, the MDC chairman, Isaac Matongo, and eight other party officials were detained, but no charges were laid or reasons given. After about five hours at the roadblock they were released shortly after midnight on Friday, said Mr Jongwe. They had not been mistreated.

Six other officials were arrested in connection with a row between supporters of the MDC and Zanu-PF. Phoning from Chiredzi police station yesterday, Dennis Murira, an MDC organiser, said he and four others were still held by the police, allegedly for being involved in the beating of a Zanu-PF candidate.

The MDC's legal secretary, David Coltart, said the detentions were part of the ruling party's campaign to intimidate the opposition in the run-up to parliamentary elections expected in June.

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