Zimbabwe opposition rallies banned
Morgan Tsvangirai was stopped at two roadblocks while trying to campaign in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city.
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Police briefly detained Zimbabwe's opposition presidential candidate Friday for the second time this week and told him the party's rallies had been banned indefinitely three weeks before the runoff election, an aide said.
The latest setback for Morgan Tsvangirai's campaign came as the U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe accused President Robert Mugabe's regime of using food as a weapon to stay in power and warned "massive, massive starvation'' could result.
Aid groups in Zimbabwe were ordered Thursday to halt operations in a move that could hamper food deliveries. Without the private aid groups, impoverished Zimbabweans will be dependent on the government and Mugabe's party.
U.S. Ambassador James McGee told reporters Friday by video conference that the regime is distributing food mostly to its supporters and that opposition supporters are offered food only if they hand in identification that would allow them to vote.
In a statement released Friday, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said police had banned the party's rallies out of concern for the safety of Tsvangirai and other party leaders. The open-ended ban only affects the opposition.
Sibotshiwe called the justification "nonsense,'' and said the ban was "a clear indication that the regime will do everything necessary to remain in power.''
Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the March 29 first round, but did not garner the 50 percent plus one vote necessary to avoid a runoff, which is scheduled for June 27.
Opposition and human rights groups accuse Mugabe of orchestrating violence to ensure he wins re-election amid growing unpopularity for his heavy-handed rule and the country's economic collapse.