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Zimbabwean opposition figure Biti denied asylum, can be arrested at home

Zimbabwe opposition couple Biti denied asylum, can encounter arrests at home © Marco Longari / AFP | File photo from July 31, 2018, in which the former Minister of Finance of Zimbabwe and member of the MDC Alliance Tendai Biti (C) greet supporters outside the headquarters of the MDC Alliance in Harare.

A senior official of the Zimbabwean opposition fled to Zambia on Wednesday, but was denied asylum. He is reportedly arrested at home because it was still the case after the disputed last week's presidential election.

Tendai Biti, a former Minister of Finance and a leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said he will be deported, according to Dewa Mavinga, director of African Rights with Human Rights Watch.

Mavhinga said that Biti told him, "It seems they have made a decision to bring us back to the junta, we are truly in God's hands."

Zambia's Foreign Minister, Joseph Malanji, said that the reasons Biti gave for seeking asylum "had no merit, so he is kept in safe custody and we are trying to bring him back to Zimbabwe." While legal and rights activists tried to make an urgent appeal, they wondered how an asylum case could be handled in just a few hours.

The plight of Biti follows scenes from the military opening fire in the streets of the capital of Zimbabwe a week ago, killing six people and increasing bullying allegations about the opposition. The events have allegations of the newly elected president Emmerson Mnangagwa from a 'bloom'; of democracy after the old leader Robert Mugabe resigned under military pressure in November.

The American top diplomat for Africa said he was "deeply affected by credible reports that opposition supporters are the targets of members of Zimbabwe's security forces."

Tibor Nagy, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said in a series of messages on Twitter that he urged the authorities in Zambia to leave Biti there until his asylum request "can be judged correctly" or give him a safe passage to a third country.

The events come when the opposition MDC prepares to challenge the July 30 election victory of the Mnangagwa District Court, which it has described as fraudulent.

Biti, one of the most vocal government critics, had stated that the official results of the Friday elections were announced that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had won, a claim also made by Chamisa himself.

"In a normal country, Chamisa would now be sworn in," Biti told reporters one day after the election.

The Zimbabwean election committee has said it is unlawful to announce results before the official announcement.

Mnangagwa was more subdued while counting the votes, only saying that the situation looked positive. However, some reports in state-run media have declared him the winner before the commission did so.

The opposition has seven days after the announcement of the commission to initiate a lawsuit, and Chamisa attorney Thabani Mpofu said the MDC will do so. That would delay the inauguration of Mnangagwa scheduled for Sunday.

Biti and Chamisa were mentioned in a search warrant last week stating that she and several others were suspected of the crimes of "possession of dangerous weapons" and "subversive material" as well as "public violence", according to a copy of The Associated Press.

The police searched the MDC headquarters on August 2, one day after the army rushed into Harare and violently spread opposition protesters, killing six people. They had been angry about the announcement that the ZANU-PF party of Mnangagwa had won the most seats in parliament.

"We condemn the murders of compatriots and we call for restraint," tweeted Biti after the crackdown.

Biti & # 39; s arrest and the hard action by the security services have "exacerbated an already volatile situation," said Piers Pigou, senior consultant for Southern Africa for the International Crisis Group. "This raises further concerns about the direction the government is evolving, at a time when it must provide leadership to all Zimbabweans."

Chamisa condemned the treatment of Biti on Wednesday evening and called the "persecution" of him and other opposition leaders by the state "unjustified and unacceptable".

International election observers and Human Rights Watch have condemned the violence and intimidation of opposition supporters and called on security forces to exercise restraint. Mnangagwa urgently needs the approval of the foreign election observers to show that the vote was credible, so that international sanctions against the South African nation could be lifted.

Under Mugabe, Zimbabwe was haunted by charges of witnessed and fraudulent elections, along with violence against opposition figures. In one of the best-known incidents, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai suffered a broken skull and internal bleeding in 2007 when he and other MDC leaders were arrested and beaten. He died of cancer earlier this year.

"We are back to 2008", said the Zimbabwean political analyst Alexander Rusero, referring to violence that marked the elections of that year. "Violence is the only language that this regime understands, but these actions kill all hope of renewed commitment to the West."

Biti had said months before the election that the Zimbabwean army casts a shadow on the hope of real reforms.

He said that while the deposition of Mugabe after 37 years in power was welcome, the military takeover that led to his resignation created a dangerous precedent for the involvement of generals in civil affairs.

"The spirit is out of the bottle," Biti said in June.

"We had a coup in November," he added. "We did not want to understand what it meant and we did not implement political reforms to ensure that no new coup d'état takes place."


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