Zimbabwe riot police 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwean police detained 46 people, including a former lawmaker, for attending a lecture and discussion group on mass uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, an independent lawyers group said Monday.
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Police confirmed the arrests at a meeting convened Saturday by the Zimbabwe branch of the International Socialist Organization where videos were shown and an agenda item allegedly asked: "What lessons can be learnt by the working class in Zimbabwe and Africa?"
Police spokesman James Sabau told state radio that authorities would
clamp down on any alleged plotters of "destabilization" against the
The independent Lawyers for Human Rights said those
detained in Harare and expected to appear in court on Monday were
holding an "academic discussion" on North Africa and deny any
The group said police were drafting charges Monday
against former opposition lawmaker Munyaradi Gwisai, an official of the
International Socialist Organization, and labor and student activists
arrested with him.
Police said attendees called for solidarity
with Egyptian and Tunisian workers and intended to incite Zimbabweans to
hold demonstrations against three decades of authoritarian rule by
President Robert Mugabe.
The protests at the northern tip of the
continent have drawn attention elsewhere in southern Africa. In Malawi, a
university professor in the eastern city of Zomba was questioned by a
senior police officer after he reportedly drew parallels in his
classroom between protests over fuel shortages in Malawi and the
demonstrations that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
in Zomba have been on strike since last week, demanding that police
apologize and pledge not to repeat such a questioning.
Mugabe, meanwhile, turned 87 Monday. He returned home Sunday from a
weeklong trip to Singapore where he underwent medical checks after a
cataract operation on a previous visit in January, his office said.
radio said Mugabe will celebrate his birthday on Saturday with children
and young leaders, an annual tradition, the radio said, that encourages
young people to follow his example as a statesman. On Monday, state TV
showed him blowing out candles.
Mugabe arrived quietly Sunday and
broke with his tradition by not addressing his supporters who had
gathered at the main Harare airport to greet him.
Mugabe's party has denied reports he underwent cancer-related surgery during an extended vacation in Asia in January.
party of Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former
opposition leader in a shaky two-year-old coalition government, said
Mugabe's absences have disrupted routine government business since