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Africa

Concern over Zimbabwean activist's disappearance

Western nations have asked the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate the disappearance of an activist opposed to President Robert Mugabe. The opposition MDC claim the police have closed their headquarters.

Gipfel Afrikanische Union AU in Addis Abeba 2015 Robert Mugabe

Authoritarian leader Robert Mugabe faces frequent criticism from rights groups but his hold on power appears unassailable

The family of journalist-turned-activist Itai Dzamara say he was forcibly taken by five unidentified men and bundled into an unmarked truck near their home in the Zimbabwean capital Harare.

Dzamara and other activists are demanding the resignation of President Robert Mugabe on the grounds that he has mismanaged the economy.

The leader of a movement called Occupy Africa Unity Square, Dzamrara was arrested in October 2014 after delivering a petition to Mugabe's offices calling on the 91 year-old leader to step down and pave the way for fresh elections.

500 people joined a march to the Zimbabwean parliament on Wednesday (11.03.2015) in protest at the activist's disappearance.

Witnesses said the rally ended with demonstrators throwing stones and police wielding batons.

The news agency dpa reported that six police officers and an activist were injured.

Opposition claims government responsible

Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said Dzamara was abducted by state security agents.

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai: "this morbid and senseless act"

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said they were in no doubt as to who was to blame.

"We hold Mugabe and his regime responsible for this morbid and senseless act," he said.

On Thursday, the MDC said the police had closed its headquarters, arguing that they were doing so because they feared an upswing in popular violence.

Noel Kututwa, a southern Africa deputy director for the rights group Amnesty International called the abduction "deeply alarming."

Simon Khaya Moyo, a top official from Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party, said the government had nothing to do with Dzamara's disappearance.

"Who is Itai Dzamara? ZANU-PF has nothing to do with him," he said.

International concern

But the United States and the European Union have released separate statements expressing concern.

The EU said the Zimbabwean government should "take all necessary measures to ascertain Mr Dzamara's whereabouts, safeguards his wellbeing and accord him the full protection of the law."

The US embassy in Harare said that "if he is being held in state custody, it is vital that his fundamental human rights and freedoms, as guaranteed by Zimbabwe's constitution, be honored."

DW's correspondent in Harare, Columbus Mavhunga said "this would not be the first time that we have had dissenting voices being abducted, being held incommunicado, and eventually they appear with bruises, swollen faces and limping. It happened in 2007 when we had a spate of abductions where people were held for weeks before they appeared in court facing allegations of plotting to assassinate Robert Mugabe."

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