Biti denied Zambian asylum, application grounds “weak”

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A senior member of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC Alliance, Tendai Biti, has been denied asylum by neighbouring Zambia.

Zimbabwe’s police accuse Biti of inciting violence following last month’s election.

Zambian Foreign Minister Joe Malanji told the BBC that Biti’s grounds for asylum were weak.

Earlier, his lawyer said his client had been detained at the border with Zambia by the Zimbabwean authorities.

Malanji told the BBC that Biti’s grounds for asylum “are not meritorious”.

There was great optimism that July’s election would bring real change after the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule last November.

But last week six people were killed after the military intervened to curb opposition protests in the capital, Harare.

Correspondents say there is a climate of fear in Zimbabwe, with some members of the opposition going into hiding.

The electoral commission declared that President Emmerson Mnangagwa won the poll, but the MDC Alliance alleges it was rigged.

The opposition says its candidate, Nelson Chamisa, was the victor and the results were manipulated.

Biti’s arrest warrant, seen by the BBC, says he “unlawfully” announced that Chamisa had won the presidential election.

He was the minister of finance in a unity government formed after disputed elections in 2008 – and is credited with helping stabilise the economy after years of hyperinflation.

The MDC Alliance has confirmed that it will challenge the presidential election result in court.

A party lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying the official outcome had been a “total negation of the will of the people”.

Altogether the police are hunting for nine senior opposition officials in connection with post-election violence.


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