Zimbabwe police crush anti-Mugabe protests
Riot police descended on the protesters as they began their march from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s offices at Harvest House, leaving five people injured.
Scores of lunch time shoppers were also caught-up in the scuffles, and at least 10 protesters were arrested, according to correspondents.
Police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Wayne Bvudzijena could only confirm the arrest of two individuals. In a statement released Monday, he said the two took part in an "illegal demonstration" and had stoned somed shops in Harare's central business district.
"Following the arrest of the two, it has since been established that they were paid to cause panic among members of the public during lunch time and moved from Julius Nyerere to First Street," Bvudzijena said.
He further suggested that some 'mischievous individuals' were sending telephone messages alleging that Harare's CBD was in flames, shops were being looted and there was a shortage of fuel at service stations.
The MDC has rejected as "fraudulent" the elections won by President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF by 78 to 41 parliamentary seats of the 120 contested. Another seat went to independent candidate Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's ex-information minister.
There was no evidence the protests were organised, following comments by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Sunday ruling out street protests to oust Mugabe from power.
Tsvangirai said widespread discrepancies in the official results from last Thursday's elections indicated that Zanu PF had rigged the voting in the rural areas where it claimed most of its seats.
Yet Tsvangirai rejected calls from some of his supporters for demonstrations, saying police would shut down roads to prevent protesters from reaching the country's main cities. Those who made it, he said, would face police violence and arrest, hurting the long-term prospects for expanding the opposition party.
"I'm not afraid to go to jail myself," he said. "But it's one thing to be courageous and another thing to make reckless decisions in a way that won't be sustainable. We have to be realistic."
Tsvangirai's reluctance to call for protests, which require written approval from police, has prompted some opposition supporters to call for new, more aggressive leadership in the party.
One frustrated party official said Tsvangirai had missed his "Gandhi moment" in the first days after the election as the extent of the ruling party landslide became clear and people were ready to be led into demonstrations.
Mugabe, who has
dismissed allegations that the elections were tainted, said on Saturday
that any effort by the opposition to demonstrate would cause "conflict,
All material copyright newzimbabwe.com
Material may be published or reproduced in any form with appropriate credit to this website