Dozens of opposition supporters arrested in Zimbabwe over strike

Other News Materials 16 April 2008 15:12 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Zimbabwean police said Wednesday they had arrested dozens of opposition supporters over a nationwide stay- at-home protest called to press for the release of election results.

A police spokesman was quoted by the BBC as saying 33 people had been arrested in Harare and four other cities since Tuesday's stayaway.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which called the protest to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe to release the results of March 29 election, claimed 50 of its supporters had been arrested.

Police said the people arrested were suspected of stoning buses and cars and trying to prevent people going to work.

Many people in Harare ignored the strike call, claiming they did not know about it or that they were afraid of reprisal if they followed MDC orders.

The state-controlled Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's refusal to announce the poll outcome 18 days after the vote was to be discussed later Wednesday at a UN Security Council meeting on Africa.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai claims to have soundly defeated Mugabe in the election.

Mugabe's party claims neither Mugabe nor Tsvangirai won outright and that a runoff will be needed, while at the same time demanding a recount.

South African President Thabo Mbeki, who stupefied observers at the weekend by declaring there is "no crisis" in Zimbabwe, is chairing the Security Council meeting.

Hundreds of people protested outside the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa Wednesday over the delayed election results and Mbeki's reappointment as southern African mediator in the standoff.

"We believe that Mbeki has now compromised his facilitative role in the Southern African Development Community. He must step down," the director of the Zimbabwe Exiles' Forum, Gabriel Shumba, was quoted by SAPA news agency as saying.