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Zimbabwe protest leader arrested on eve of strike

12 July 2016, 11:48

Harare - Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire, one of the organisers of recent protests calling for a change of government, was arrested on Tuesday and charged with inciting public violence, his lawyer said.

A national "shutdown" protest last week closed many businesses, shops and schools, with public transport and some government departments and courts also ceasing to function.

The strike on Wednesday followed days of sporadic protests triggered by a sudden outbreak of demonstrations on the outskirts of Harare over police manning road blocks accused of extorting cash from motorists.

Further shutdowns are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday in a surge of public opposition to President Robert Mugabe's decades-long rule as an economic crisis worsens.

Banks have run short of cash, government salaries have been delayed and many basic imports banned at a time when the country has also suffered a severe drought that has left millions hungry.

"(Mawarire) has been charged with inciting public violence," his lawyer Harrison Nkomo told AFP after he reported to a police station in central Harare where he had been summoned for questioning.

Mawarire, a Baptist pastor, shot to instant fame after he posted a video of himself on Facebook in April venting against state corruption and the government's failure to provide basic services.

The video, in which Mawarire was wearing a Zimbabwean flag, spawned the ThisFlag hashtag movement which has become a unifying symbol for the protests.



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