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Zimbabwe bans third opposition protest

By AFP

Added 21st August 2019 07:03 AM

The march, organised by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is the third demonstration to be banned in less than a week.

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe

The march, organised by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is the third demonstration to be banned in less than a week.

Zimbabwean police outlawed anti-government protests that had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday in Gweru, the country's third-largest city, the main opposition MDC said.
 
The march, organised by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is the third demonstration to be banned in less than a week.
 
In a statement, the MDC described the move as not just "a ban on civilian politics, but a de-facto state of emergency".
 
"The prohibition orders that are being used to stifle and throttle democratic space are in themselves unconstitutional," it said.
 
MDC Vice President Tendai Biti said in a tweet that "the regime's actions are effectively banning the MDC and suspending the constitution."
 
But, he promised, "we will soldier on peacefully and constitutionally."
 
Police have already banned marches in the capital Harare and Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city.
 
The protests aim to highlight the worsening economic conditions in the southern African country.
 
Riot police patrolled the streets of Gweru on Tuesday where some shops kept their shutters down, according to witnesses.
 
On Friday, police using teargas and batons scattered demonstrators who defied the ban in Harare, leaving 12 people wounded.
 
The European Union, Australia, Canada, and the United States have called on the authorities to exercise restraint and proportionality. 
 
The "intimidation, harassment and physical attacks on human rights defenders, trade union and civil society representatives, and opposition politicians -- prior to, during and following the demonstration in Harare on 16 August -- are cause for great concern," their envoys said in a rare joint statement issued in Harare.
 
But the government lambasted the statement saying it was dismayed by the reaction of the Western countries' envoys.
 
"Government is taken aback by the intrusive and judgemental tone of the statement," said government spokesman Nick Mangwana in a statement. 
 
Zimbabwe's government is trying to mend relations with the West after decades of isolation over human rights abuses under veteran leader Robert Mugabe who was ousted in a military-led coup in 2017.
 
Mangwana said government believed that any efforts to re-engage Zimbabwe by the West "should not be in any way prescriptive, coercive or manipulative". 
 
Mugabe's successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, won elections last year on a pledge to revive the country's sickly economy.
 
But many Zimbabweans say things have gone from bad to worse with shortages of bread, fuel and medicines. Inflation is now running at triple figures.
 
According to the UN, about five million Zimbabweans, or a third of the population, are in need of food aid.

 

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