Zimbabwean opposition leader said to be arrested

By John Cassim

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA) – A prominent Zimbabwean opposition figure was arrested Wednesday morning by the country’s police while trying to seek political asylum in neighboring Zambia, according to his attorney.

“Tendai Biti was arrested on Zambian soil at the Chirundu border between Zimbabwe and Zambia,” added the lawyer, Ngobizitha Mlilo.

Police in the southern African country say Biti has been wanted on allegations that he incited violent protests in the capital leading to the death of six people.

Police have neither confirmed the arrest nor the motive behind the arrest.

“Authorities were investigating Biti for unofficially and unlawfully declaring MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa the duly elected president of Zimbabwe‚ which is alleged to be a violation of Zimbabwean electoral law,” said the lawyer.

The reported charges come less than 10 days after Zimbabwe’s hotly contested July 30 elections, the first in the post-Robert Mugabe era, in which Emmerson Mnangagwa has been declared the winner.

Chamisa has rejected the results, calling them a “fiction.”

The Zimbabwean police appear to blame Biti for public violence that flared up in Zimbabwe, including “accomplices” using firearms who burned various vehicles and a bus at the ruling ZANU-PF provincial headquarters, said Mlilo.

The attempt to flee followed an attempt on Biti’s life on Monday during which a gunman opened fire on his car, Mlilo said.

Separately, Thabani Mpofu, leader of a large team of lawyers, says he is seeking the reversal of the declaration of Mnangagwa as the election winner.

“We are working with a huge team of lawyers locally assembled who have given their all to this course. Part of the team include internationally renowned constitutional law lawyers,” he said Wednesday.

Mpofu alleged that some members of the team are being harassed, but said this would not deter them.

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