Zimbabwe police 'hunt for opposition MDC officials'

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Six people died after the security forces opened fire on the streets of Harare on Wednesday

Zimbabwean police are searching for nine senior officials of the opposition MDC Alliance following disputed elections, media reports say.

They are wanted for allegedly inciting their supporters to stage an illegal protest last Wednesday.

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

The MDC Alliance says last Monday's election was rigged to give President Emmerson Mnangagwa victory.

The electoral commission insists there was "absolutely no skulduggery".

Former finance minister and leading MDC Alliance figure Tendai Biti is among those wanted.

Media caption,
BBC captures footage of post-election violence in Harare

His arrest warrant, seen by the BBC, says that Mr Biti "unlawfully" announced that his party's leader, Nelson Chamisa, won the presidential election.

He is also accused of inciting the violence last Wednesday when MDC Alliance supporters clashed with security forces.

MDC Alliance chairman Morgan Komich, youth leader Happymore Chidziva and six other party officials are also wanted, the state-linked Herald newspaper reports.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Tendai Biti is accused of pre-empting the official election results

July's elections were intended to set Zimbabwe on a new democratic path after the end of Robert Mugabe's 37-year rule last November.

However, there has been an "intensified crackdown" on the opposition since the election, campaign group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.

It had documented numerous cases of beatings and harassment by soldiers in several of Harare's high-density suburbs, HRW said.

It heard evidence that early on Sunday morning six masked men broke into Mr Chidziva's house. When a female resident "screamed for help, one of the men pointed a rifle at her head and told her to be quiet or risk death".

"The soldiers, in groups of four to 10, beat up people in bars and restaurants, accusing them of letting down [Mr] Mnangagwa because the MDC Alliance candidate, Nelson Chamisa, won the majority of votes in Harare," the group added in a statement.

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But Foreign Minister Sibusiso Moyo said the reports were not true.

"Government is not aware of any beatings or abductions... there is a lot of misinformation that is coming out from social media," the Herald newspaper quotes him as saying.

Police have already arrested 27 people after accusing them of being "linked" to the violence at the protest. They have all been released on bail.

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