US condemns police brutality

HARARE - The United States has condemned the savage beating by police of opposition demonstrators last week and the unilateral declaration of an election date by president Robert Mugabe. 

“We have supported the SADC-sponsored effort to resolve the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe through negotiation between the ruling and opposition parties,” State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said last week.  “We regret that President Mugabe has insisted on proceeding … without having reached an agreement on conditions that would have levelled the playing field for all parties planning to compete in those elections.”
Casey said police assaults on opposition demonstrators last week “is further illustration of the government of Zimbabwe undermining the spirit of the SADC process.”
MDC (Morgan Tsvangirai) spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: “What Mugabe has done is a slap in the face, not only of the MDC, but of Mbeki and the Southern African Development Community. Clearly this is against the spirit of the on-going talks. Mugabe has chosen belligerence at the expense of dialogue and it’s a tragic path for Zimbabwe to take.”
The secretary-general of the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC, Professor Welshman Ncube said: “By that very act of calling an election under the circumstances where the mediator is trying to find a solution to that dispute … means effectively they have repudiated the talks. As far as we are concerned that is the end of that process. We wait to see what SADC will do.”
David Coltart, a senior member of the MDC (Mutambara), told a Washington audience weekend that he doubted the joint presidential, parliamentary and municipal poll would be free or fair, but said it was unlikely the MDC and other opposition forces could agree on a total boycott of the election.
“We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” take part in the election, said Coltart in remarks to the Heritage Foundation thinktank. – Chief reporter

Police ruthlessly quashed a peaceful march by a coalition of pro-democracy groups, Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR), protesting against police brutality on Friday.
ROHR vice president Stendrick Zvorwadza and national chairman Tichanzii Gandanga said police brutalised 26 arrested members using Gestapo-style tactics. “They were made to lie down and roll in dirty water like soldiers on some routine drill. Each was beaten 20 smacks with baton sticks in both hands reminiscent of primary school beatings except that this was done ruthlessly and relentlessly.” Three of the victims sustained broken fingers and ribs.


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