MDC rally thwarted

HARARE, Zimbabwe — The Zimbabwe prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party the Movement for Democratic Change says police have thwarted its first showcase political rally in several months.

Nelson Chamisa, a Organising Secreatary the for the Movement for Democratic Change, said Saturday police clearance for the meeting was only received late Friday.

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About 2,000 supporters braved a heavy police turnout that included armored cars and water cannons in the western township of Highfield.

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Witnesses also saw militants of Robert Mugabe’s party threatening and assaulting people headed to the rally.

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Police have banned several recent meetings of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party on security grounds.

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Chamisa said Tsvangirai, billed to speak, did not show up Saturday because the rally had been “relegated” to a minor event.

\r\nPolice succeeded in barring the Movevement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) president and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to attend his party’s much publicised rally on Saturday after police told him to avoid criticising President Robert Mugabe and stop his from marching.\r\n

Douglas Mwonzora, the MDC-T spokesman said Tsvangirai felt insulted by the conditions given by the police only a day before the “peace rally”.

Close to a thousand people flocked to the Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield but it was the MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa  and a few senior officials who turned up to address them.

Officials said more supporters could have attended were it not for the intimidation by Zanu (PF) militias who attacked people who were making their way to the venue.

“Before the rally kicked off, Zanu (PF) youths at Machipisa shopping center assaulted six members of the MDC who were going to the people’s real change peace rally at Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield,” the party said in a statement issued after the rally.

“The matter was reported to Machipisa police station, but no arrests were made despite the identified youths being stationed at their office just opposite the police station.”

Other conditions given to the party were that officials must not denigrate other parties, engage in hate speech and that Tsvangirai must report party supporters who engaged in violence.

Chamisa said they expected the weekend Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit to be held in South Africa to build on the resolutions of the Troika which met in Livingstone, Zambia and told Mugabe to stop political violence and fully implement the power sharing agreement.

“Our position as the MDC-T is that the resolutions that were prepared in Zambia in March should be adopted at the SADC summit to be held next week,” he said.

“If these resolutions are adopted, then no elections will take place this year and there will be no elections in Zimbabwe without the MDC-T.”

The next MDC rally will be held at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru on June 19.

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