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Is Mugabe sabotaging Zimbabwe's coalition government?

Opposition MPs have recently been jailed, including Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett, who was arrested on charges of 'banditry and terrorism.' Critics say the charges are 'trumped up.'

Free them! Opposition supporters protested the jailing of their members of parliament Sunday in Harare.

Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

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The first weeks of Zimbabwe's coalition government – a power-sharing agreement where power is unequally shared – have not gone well.

True, Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's new prime minister and President Robert Mugabe's sworn enemy, recently had a successful visit to South Africa, laying out a $5 billion plan to reconstruct Zimbabwe. But members of Mr. Tsvangirai's own party remain in jail, including Deputy Agriculture Minister Roy Bennett, who was arrested on charges of "banditry and terrorism."

And supporters of Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party have invaded dozens of farms belonging to the few remaining white farmers in Zimbabwe. And across the country, squabbling between members of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and ZANU-PF – ostensibly allies in government – has turned increasingly violent.

The arrest Mr. Bennett is of key concern for the MDC, who describe the charges of banditry as "trumped up." Bennett was granted bail on Tuesday afternoon by the Harare High Court, only to have the attorney general appeal the decision, forcing Bennett to remain in Mutare Prison for an additional week, at least.

"The continuous detention of [Bennett] is a provocation of the highest order, and there seems to be a clear attempt to scuttle the power-sharing government," says Nqobizitha Mlilo, an MDC spokesman based in Johannesburg. "But we remain committed to an inclusive government and we will do everything in our power to hold it together for the betterment of the Zimbabwe people."


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