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Zim detains newspaper editor, reporter

07 May 2013, 14:31

Harare - The editor and chief reporter of a leading weekly the Zimbabwe Independent have been detained by police after publishing a politically sensitive article, the paper's website said on Tuesday.

Editor Dumisani Muleya and chief reporter Owen Gagare were said to have been arrested for publishing "falsehoods" in a story two weeks ago.

The police were not immediately available for comment so the arrests could not be confirmed.

The article in question claimed that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change was talking to top officials including military commanders to ease the path to elections expected later this year.

The branches of state security in Zimbabwe are dominated by loyal supporters of veteran President Robert Mugabe, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming polls seen as likely to end a shaky Mugabe-Tsvangirai coalition.

The talks with Mugabe's top brass were a bid to "allay fears they would be removed if President Robert Mugabe is defeated", the article said.

Quoting "military sources", it said the discussions were also aimed at "preventing possible political instability or a potential coup if Tsvangirai trounces Mugabe".

The report has already been met with a furious rebuttal by the military.

On Sunday, Constantine Chiwenga, the commander of Zimbabwe's defence force, told state media he would not meet with Tsvangirai.

"We have no time to meet a sell-outs. Clearly Tsvangirai is a psychiatric patient who needs a competent psychiatrist," he was quoted as saying.

Most analysts believe Tsvangirai will have to retain some top Mugabe loyalists even if he wins the election, to prevent unrest and possible bloodshed.

But both he and the military brass would leave themselves open to allegations of disloyalty by their supporters if they were to collaborate.

Harassment of independent media outlets is commonplace in Zimbabwe.

Last week, Mugabe was declared a press "predator" by Reporters without Borders.



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