12-06-2016  1:46 pm      •     

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- The longtime opposition party that has joined Zimbabwe's coalition government was told Monday that a prominent member of the party would be held by police two more days without charge.
Roy Bennett was arrested three days ago. Representatives of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, had hoped to see him in court Monday.
But the party, which calls Bennett's arrest politically motivated, said in a statement that police asked the magistrate for permission to hold him another 48 hours, and the request was granted.
Attempts to reach police were unsuccessful.
MDC members have been holding a vigil outside the police station in Mutare, 270 kilometers (170 miles) east of Harare, where Bennett, who turned 52 Monday, is held.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the party's leader and Zimbabwe's new prime minister, has called Bennett's arrest an attempt by factions in President Robert Mugabe's party to derail the unity government.
Tsvangirai's party reported earlier that police said Bennett would be accused of treason, which carries the death penalty. The party said police revised that Sunday, saying Bennett faces a weapons charge instead.
Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal -- created to end months of political deadlock after disputed elections last year -- aims to have rival politicians work together to address Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. It keeps Mugabe as president after three decades in power, but many of his top aides have lost Cabinet posts to MDC politicians.
Critics say Mugabe has engineered Zimbabwe's economic collapse, in part with land reforms that saw white-owned farms seized and given to his cronies instead of the impoverished blacks he claimed were going to benefit.
Bennett, who is white, had his coffee farm in eastern Zimbabwe seized. The MDC has nominated him to be deputy agriculture minister in the unity government.
Zimbabwe has the world's highest inflation rate, a hunger crisis that has left most of its people dependent on foreign handouts and a cholera epidemic that has killed over 3,500 people since August.

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