Protesters clash with riot police in Zimbabwe’s capital

Zimbabwean riot police have clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the capital Harare.

Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd at Africa Unity Square but many protesters moved into nearby streets.

Zimbabwe’s High Court earlier upheld a police ban on the opposition demonstration.

The court rejected the application from the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, to declare the planned protest action to be legal.

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Police and government officials warned that the demonstration would be illegal and protesters would “rot in jail”.

To avoid any possible trouble, many residents avoided going out.

Many shops were closed and Harare’s streets were unusually quiet on Friday morning.

The opposition party had planned what it said would be a peaceful protest to press President Emmerson Mnangagwa to set up a transitional authority to address economic problems and organise credible elections.

The protests will spread to other cities next week, the opposition said.

Zimbabwe’s economic turmoil with inflation at 175%, widespread power cuts lasting up to 19 hours a day and shortages of water are blamed for the rising political tensions.

From the hope that swept across the country with the forced resignation of repressive ruler Robert Mugabe in November 2017, the nation has returned to widespread resentment and fear, according to government critics and residents.

Six anti-government activists were abducted and tortured this week ahead of the protests, according to human rights groups.

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