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Zimbabwean Court Overturns Ban on Opposition Rally

By VOA News
21 June 2008

A Zimbabwean court has overturned a police ban on a rally by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change ahead of next week's presidential runoff election.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa says the court granted the party permission Saturday to go ahead with Sunday's rally in the capital, Harare. Police had banned the gathering Tuesday without providing an explanation.

The rally is the opposition's main event before the June 27 runoff between MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.

The MDC says at least 70 of its members have been killed in pre-election violence. But Mr. Mugabe Friday rejected claims that his supporters are committing attacks, and accused the MDC of fabricating the accusations.

Saturday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned what he called the "horrific escalation of violence." He called for an international investigation of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe ahead of the vote.

The vote follows the first round of elections on March 29, in which Mr. Tsvangirai tallied more votes than Mr. Mugabe, but the official tally showed he did not get enough to avoid a run-off.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been detained five times during his campaign, while MDC Secretary-General Tendai Biti remains in custody facing a treason charge and other offenses. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

An MDC spokesman told VOA (Studio 7 Zimbabwe) Friday that party leaders will meet Sunday to discuss possible plans to withdraw from the runoff.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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