Tsvangirai released after 8 hours in detention
By Marnie Suss
June 5, 2008 | Printer Friendly
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s opponent Morgan Tsvangirai was briefly detained on June 4 by Zimbabwe authorities while he was campaigning for a presidential run-off election. The International Herald Tribune writes that Tsvangirai and other party officials had addressed supporters in Lupane without authorization, before being detained at a nearby roadblock. The BBC reports that eight hours later authorities released Tsvangirai without charges. Tsvangirai said, “[this was] nothing but the usual harassment which is totally unnecessary."
AFP reports that Western governments quickly reacted to criticize Tsvangirai’s detention and urged the Zimbabwean police to release him and his campaign officials. The German government called his detention “completely unacceptable,” and a spokesperson for the foreign ministry told AFP, “This would be another example of how the government in Harare is attempting to intimidate the population ahead of the run-off presidential election and to weaken the opposition." U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Sean McCormack called the detainment a “deeply disturbing development,” adding, “We would call for his immediate release and we are sure that all others who have an interest in seeing free and fair elections take place in Zimbabwe ... will call for the same."
These events occurred as Mugabe attended a summit of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization in Rome. AFP writes that “he used his speech…on Tuesday to accuse the West of trying to bring about ‘illegal regime change’ in Zimbabwe.” The International Herald Tribune reports that Mugabe has ordered international aid organizations – CARE International and ADRA – to suspend their activities in the country because the government suspected they are campaigning for the opposition. Much of the country is without food or basic supplies since aid workers have been stopped. “Save the Children UK, said it had been asked to suspend work in Binga district, where it had been providing support for 60,000 children,” said the AFP.
AFP: Zimbabwe opposition leader held amid pre-vote crackdown
International Herald Tribune: Zimbabwean opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai detained
BBC: Zimbabwe opposition leader freed