ZIMBABWE: Arrest of opposition MP for insulting Mugabe slammed

Johannesburg, 15 March 2006 (IRIN) - The arrest of a Zimbabwe opposition MP for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe has been slammed as yet another attempt by the state to silence its critics.

Timothy Mubhawu, from the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was arrested in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday night, under Zimbabwe's stringent laws against denigrating the head of state.

He allegedly gave a lift to a group of soldiers on 3 March and asked them why "do you let Mugabe let you suffer?" A soldier reported the alleged statement to the police and Mubhawu was taken into custody.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told IRIN that Mubhawu was still in custody but was expected to appear in court soon. He said Mabhuwa denied the charges and "our lawyers are dealing with the matter".

"They allege he degraded and derided the name of the president ... but this is merely part of the ongoing victimisation of opposition leaders in the country," Chamisa claimed.

The divided MDC's "watershed" congress is scheduled to be held this weekend.

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