Zim riot police raid MDC headquarters

Armed riot police raided the headquarters of Zimbabwe’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on Friday and detained scores of people, officials said.

Dozens of riot police detained about 100 MDC supporters who were bundled into a crowded police bus before being taken away, a Reuters witness said.

Zimbabwe police confirmed that the riot squad had detained supporters of the MDC during the raid.

MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa said that among those detained were supporters who had come to the party headquarters after sustaining injuries in violence after disputed March 29 elections.

“They took everyone in the building, including those who had come just to seek medical care. They are trying to destroy evidence of their brutality,” Chamisa said.

He said police also took some computers from the party offices.

The MDC has accused President Robert Mugabe’s government of delaying the release of presidential election results.

The outcome of a parliamentary poll, which the MDC won, is also in doubt because of partial recounts. The authorities have said results of the recount are expected by the weekend.

The poll deadlock has raised fears of widespread bloodshed in Zimbabwe, which could have dire consequences for a region that already hosts millions of Zimbabweans who have fled their country’s economic collapse.

Mugabe ventures into opposition heartland

Meanwhile, Mugabe made a rare foray into the opposition’s heartland on Friday as the United States piled further pressure on him to stand down after last month’s election.

Mugabe was due to launch an international trade fair in the southern city of Bulawayo, which has long been the bastion of opposition to his 28-year rule and failed to elect a single lawmaker from the ruling party in the March 29 vote.

While there were no advance details of his speech, it will be only the second address that Mugabe has delivered since election day when he sought to gain a sixth term in office.

The Zimbabwean government has so far given no response to a blunt declaration by the top US envoy for Africa that he had been clearly beaten by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and the people had voted for change.

With the electoral commission having failed to give any word on the outcome of a simultaneous presidential election, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer said any results that were to be announced would lack credibility.

“It is hard for us to accept that any result at this point would have any credibility,” Frazer told reporters on Thursday after talks with officials in Zimbabwe’s giant neighbour, South Africa.

“The Zimbabwean people voted for change and we feel the will of the people must be respected.”

Frazer was due to travel to the Angolan capital, Luanda, on Friday where she was expected to hold talks with veteran President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

The Angolan leader is a long-time ally of Mugabe but has so far made no public pledge of support for his Zimbabwean counterpart.

Frazer wants to ensure that none of the countries in the region come to the aid of Mugabe and hammer home the message that any such support would damage their relations with Washington.

The Bush administration has nailed its colours firmly to the mast of Tsvangirai, who met with Frazer at an undisclosed venue in South Africa on Thursday night.—Reuters, AFP

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