Police stamp out Tsvangirai's election campaign

Police stopped the election campaign of Robert Mugabe's main rival in its tracks today.







Just weeks before the run-off ballot for Zimbabwe's presidency, Morgan Tsvangirai was detained at an official roadblock then told all his party's rallies across the country had been banned indefinitely.



Mr Tsvangirai's campaign to unseat Mugabe has already been hit by violence and intimidation.



The latest setback came as UN aid agencies said they were deeply concerned because aid groups have been ordered to halt operations, a move that could hamper food deliveries.



Without private aid groups impoverished Zimbabweans will be dependent on the government and Mugabe's party, both of which distribute food and other aid. And some observers fear that food may be delivered only to confirmed Mugabe supporters.



Mr Tsvangirai had been trying to campaign around Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city. He was stopped at two roadblocks, and the second time ordered to go to a police station about 30 miles away.



Two hours later he was allowed to leave and drive back to Bulawayo under police escort.



His spokesman said Mr Tsvangirai was questioned by police at the station for 25 minutes, and was told that all party rallies in the country had been banned indefinitely.



"We are dismayed that our president has not been allowed to access the Zimbabwean people at a crucial stage in this campaign," he said.



Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party said police had banned its rallies out of concern for the safety of him and other party leaders.



The spokesman said the justification was "nonsense," and the ban was "a clear indication that the regime will do everything necessary to remain in power."



Mr Tsvangirai out-polled Mugabe and two other candidates in the 29 March first round of presidential voting, but did not get the 50 per cent plus one vote necessary to avoid the run-off, which is scheduled for 27 June.



Opposition and human rights groups accuse Mugabe of orchestrating violence to ensure he wins re-election amid growing unpopularity for his heavy-handed rule and the country's economic collapse.



Mr Tsvangirai said yesterday his campaign has faced many obstacles.



"As I speak, all the rallies have been banned. We have had to improvise in terms of how we access the people. And it's a very hostile environment," he said.



But he said he still expected to win at month's end.



"If Mugabe did not hear the voice in March, he's going to hear a much louder voice that people no longer enjoy their confidence in this government."



Mr Tsvangirai, who lost a 2002 presidential election that independent observers said was rigged in Mugabe's favour, had only returned to Zimbabwe in late May to campaign for the run-off. He left the country soon after the March first round, and his party has said he was the target of a military assassination plot. He has survived at least three previous assassination attempts.



Mr Tsvangirai's party says at least 60 of its supporters have been slain in the past two months.



Aid groups in Zimbabwe have been hit by an indefinite suspension of field work despite millions of Zimbabweans depending on international groups for food and other aid as the economy crumbles.



James Elder, a spokesman for the UN children's agency, said the suspension was "completely unacceptable and hugely concerning. Hundreds of thousands of children are in need of immediate assistance.



"With the onset of the winter in Zimbabwe, the timing is critical for children who are among the most vulnerable and most in need of support," Elder said.



Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980 and was once hailed as a liberator who promoted racial reconciliation and economic empowerment.



But he has been accused of clinging to power through election fraud and intimidation, and of destroying his country's economy through the seizure of white-owned farms beginning in 2000.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on Scotland's oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
News
news

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballThe latest scores and Twitter updates from tonight’s games, featuring Bayern Munich vs Man City and Chelsea vs Schalke
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
News
i100
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

Extras
10 best table lamps
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

English Teacher (Bristol and South Gloucestershire)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Bristol: English teachers for day to day cover,...

Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Sheffield: Year 6 Teacher RequiredThis teaching...

SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's Stortford / Stansted

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SharePoint Administrator - Bishop's ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week