Zimbabwe minister arrested for Mugabe “insult”

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Zimbabwe’s energy minister was arrested on suspicion of insulting President Robert Mugabe, a move likely to strain relations in the southern African country’s fragile coalition government.

Elton Mangoma, a senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, was taken into police custody but the nature of his alleged insult was not disclosed, the MDC said in a statement.

Police were not immediately available to comment, Reuters reports.

Zimbabwe’s security laws make it a criminal offence to insult the president. Offenders are usually fined if convicted.

Tsvangirai and Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party formed a power-sharing government three years ago after disputed polls in 2008 marred by mass violence.

Mangoma has been arrested twice before and faced charges of criminally abusing his office in the awarding of government contracts but was later cleared.