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Zimbabwe police arrest, then release, top leaders

Police arrested Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube and at least 20 other senior members of the smallest of the three parties within the ruling coalition Sunday. They were released hours later.

Zimbabwean police patrol on horseback along the streets of Harare, Thursday, June 16.

Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

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Zimbabwe police arrested and then released top leaders of a political party in the country's fragile ruling coalition government for violating provisions of Zimbabwe’s strict Public Order and Security Act, which prevents political meetings without police clearance.

The arrest of Zimbabwe's Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube and at least 20 other senior members of the smallest of the three parties within the ruling coalition – the Movement for Democratic Change-Ncube (MDC-N) – is just the latest of several provocative moves by security forces loyal to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980.

Mr. Ncube and the other MDC-N leaders were held for several hours at Hwange Police Station, near the southwestern city of Victoria Falls, before being allowed to continue the drive back to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.

“Our president, Prof. Welshman Ncube, and other prominent members of the MDC-N were arrested this evening [Sunday] at a roadblock,” says Kurauone Chihwayi, spokesman for the MDC-N, in Zimbabwe's capital, Harare. “It’s not true that they were holding an illegal meeting. We as a party absolutely condemn their arrest, and we want the guarantors [of the power-sharing government] to read the riot act to the people who are doing this to disturb this arrangement of government.”

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