Zimbabwe’s opposition says 8 held after campaign rally ban

Zinyange Auntony/AFP

The Citizens Coalition for Change, a leading opposition party in Zimbabwe, say eight of its supporters are being detained by police.

This follows a clash between police and party supporters in the town of Chiredzi after they were prevented from holding an election campaign event.

Zimbabweans are expected to head to the polls in August for national elections. 

Zimbabwe’s leading opposition said on Thursday that police arrested eight of its supporters after banning a campaign rally, in a move the party denounced as part of an escalating crackdown ahead of national elections.

The southern African country, where the ruling Zanu-PF party has been in power since 1980, is bracing for what is expected to be a tense vote on 23 August.

On Wednesday, police fired teargas and clashed with supporters of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in the southeastern town of Chiredzi, after the party was prevented from holding a campaign event.

CCC’s spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere told AFP that at least eight people were held.

“ZANU-PF can never win a free and fair election which is why they’re resorting to rally bans and abusing the police service to try and stop our campaign activity,” she said.

An 80-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced strongman ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017 after a military-led coup, is seeking re-election in the August vote.

But he faces a disaffected population that is battling hyperinflation, poverty and high unemployment.

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