Top Zimbabwe opposition politician arrested

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Former Zimabwean finance minister and opposition politician Tendai Biti was detained by police as he tried to cross the border and seek asylum in neighbouring Zambia, his lawyer said.

A day earlier authorities said they were looking for Biti in connection with violence following last week’s disputed election in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner.

Six people were killed in a post-election army clampdown on protests against the result and Mnangagwa’s main rival, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, accused government of a security crackdown on party members.

Biti, who’s People’s Democratic Party formed an election alliance with Chamisa’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was in hiding and feared for his life, his lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo said.
“We kick-started processes to seek political asylum and are waiting to see how far the processes go. His life is in danger,” he said.

Police have not yet informed him of charges, Mlilo said.

Post-election turmoil was reminiscent of the rule of Robert Mugabe, toppled last November in a de facto military coup and replaced by Mnangagwa.

Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba had no information on Biti’s arrest. The Criminal Investigations Department said police were looking for Biti, MDC chairman Morgen Komichi and MDC youth leader Happymore Chidziva linked to last week’s violence.



Mlilo said Biti was arrested after presenting himself to Zambian immigration officials at Chirundu border post, north of Harare, where Zimbabwean and Zambian officials share the same building.
“It seems Zambian immigration officials alerted Zimbabwe police and they effected an arrest,” said Mlilo who was at the border with Biti.