President Robert Mugabe’s regime struck at
the opposition leadership Thursday only two weeks before Zimbabwe’s
presidential runoff election, twice detaining his challenger and
jailing the No. 2 opposition official to face treason charges.
U.S. ambassador, meanwhile, said 20 tons of American food aid heading
to impoverished Zimbabwean children were seized by authorities last
week and given to Mugabe supporters at a rally.
detentions, coupled with Western accusations that Mugabe’s regime is
using food as a weapon, dramatically demonstrate the obstacles to the
campaign thrown up by the longtime leader.
"This is a government
that is taking tremendous and, frankly, awful strides to maintain its
power, that is increasingly abusing its own citizens and has raised, or
should I say lowered, the bar to a level that we rarely see," State
Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said in Washington.
Tsvangirai, who led the opening round of presidential voting 2 1/2
months ago and faces the increasingly autocratic Mugabe in a June 27
runoff, was first stopped at a roadblock in the south and held at a
police station for about two hours, his party said.
said Tsvangirai went back to campaigning, but was stopped later by
another group of police, and it was not known if he was still being
held Thursday night. It was the third and fourth times in recent weeks
that he was detained while running against Mugabe, who is increasingly
unpopular for repressive ways and a wrecked economy.
biggest blow was aimed at Tendai Biti, secretary-general of
Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change, who was arrested at Harare
airport upon returning from South Africa. Police said he would be
charged with treason, which carries the possibility of the death
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said the treason
charge related to a "transition document" discussing changing