Zimbabwe arrests Tendai Biti at Zambia border

Tendai Biti

Tendai Biti

A senior member of Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC Alliance, Tendai Biti, has been arrested at the border with Zambia, his lawyer says.

Police accuse Mr Biti of inciting violence following last month’s election – the first since long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted.

But the state broadcaster said the former finance minister had not been detained, saying it was “fake news”.

Earlier, his lawyer said Mr Biti was fleeing to Zambia to seek asylum.

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

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

The MDC Alliance alleges the presidential poll was rigged.

The electoral commission disputes this, saying incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took over from Mr Mugabe, won the election with 50.8 per cent of the vote, avoiding a run-off.

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

Six people were killed last Wednesday after the military intervened to curb protests in the capital, Harare.

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

But there is now confusion over his whereabouts.

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.

MDC Alliance Senator David Coltart called his alleged arrest “utterly appalling”.

“I see all the tactics of Mugabe and all the tactics used by this regime for the last 38 years,” he told the BBC.

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. -BBC


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