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Mutambara Freed On Bail

The leader of a faction of Zimbabwe’s main opposition party was granted bail and released from custody on Tuesday after his arrest for publishing an article critical of President Robert Mugabe.

A court in the capital Harare ordered Arthur Mutambara freed on bail of 20 billion Zimbabwean dollars after he appeared to face charges of contempt of court and communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the state.

 Mutambara, who heads the smaller of two wings of the Movement for Democratic Change, was ordered to appear in court on June 17. He also cannot leave the southern African nation until the case is resolved.

“What has happened is nothing compared to what the people of Zimbabwe are experiencing. Mugabe is violating the human rights of our people,” a defiant Mutambara said after his release, accusing the government of a crackdown on opposition supporters.

Mutambara made a similar accusation in an article published on April 20 in the Standard, a privately owned weekly newspaper. He criticised Mugabe’s handling of the March 29 elections and questioned his government’s right to stay in office.

He was arrested on Sunday.

Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF lost control of parliament in the election for the first time since he led it to power in 1980. Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC faction won the most seats, with Mutambara’s MDC winning a smaller number.

The two MDC factions split in 2005 but recently agreed to combine forces and work together to unseat Mugabe’s government.

Results from a parallel presidential election in March showed Tsvangirai beating Mugabe but without a big enough margin to avoid a run-off, which will be held on June 27.

Both MDC factions, however, have raised concerns about the fairness of the upcoming presidential poll and have called on the government to end what they describe as an orchestrated intimidation campaign.

Scores of MDC supporters have been beaten and killed since the elections in March, according to the party. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF say the opposition is responsible for a wave of violence targeting its activists.

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