Police in Zimbabwe bar opposition rally ahead of elections

A campaign rally that was set to be held by Zimbabwe’s main opposition party in the central Midlands province on Thursday was banned by police on Monday.

The ban in the Gokwe town comes less than a week after police stopped another opposition rally in the Bindura town of the Mashonaland Central province, citing poorly serviced roads as one of the reasons to stop the rally.

On Monday, hours after police issued an order instructing provincial commanders to allow rallies by opposition parties, it banned another rally by the opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) scheduled in Gokwe.

Police superintendent Augustine Zimbili wrote a letter on Monday addressed to the opposition CCC banning its Gokwe rally, saying there would be other political activities within the area where the opposition aimed to hold its rally.

In a post on Twitter, Fadzai Mahere, the national CCC spokesperson, said six rallies were banned over a one-week period.

A leaked memo revealed Zimbabwean police bosses had ordered provincial police commanders to approve opposition political rallies unless there would be compelling reasons to bar them.

Meanwhile, police said they have launched an internal investigation to find out who might have leaked the memo addressed to police commanders.

Tensions are rising ahead of the Aug. 23 elections in Zimbabwe, with authorities saying they have an arrest warrant for the independent presidential contestant, Savior Kasukuwere, who is in exile in South Africa, which might deter him from traveling home to campaign ahead of the referendum.

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