Tension as Zimbabwe court denies bail to 58 opposition protesters

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A Zimbabwean court has denied bail to 58 opposition protesters who took part in recent demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe.riot

The court released another 11 people, including security guards, passers-by and a journalist, on a bail of USD 50 (45 euros) each.

“In respect of all the others, bail is refused,” said Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe, after an almost week-long hearing.

On August 27, violence erupted as police blocked off the site of a protest which had been authorized by a court, demanding free and fair elections scheduled to be held in 2018. Police also beat up opposition protesters. The protesters responded with throwing stones and setting tires ablaze.

Mahwe also slammed police officers for capturing a 68-year-old man who was freed on bail on Friday.

“The court struggles to imagine how such a man of advanced age participates in violence,” Mahwe said.

Earlier this week, Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of the Tajamuka (“We are agitated”) protest group, was denied bail over public violence charges he faced after his detention in recent demonstrations.

A protester throws a street sign with President Robert Mugabe’s name on it as opposition supporters clash with police during a protest march for electoral reforms in Harare, Zimbabwe, August 26, 2016. (AFP)

Zimbabwe has seen anti-government protests over the past weeks, with demonstrators calling for Mugabe to step down.

The opposition says the president has failed to properly address issues such as economic decline and mass unemployment.

Mugabe, who regularly appears in public, has ruled Zimbabwe since its independence in 1980. He intends to stand again in the upcoming election.

The opposition says the 2013 election won by Mugabe was rigged.

Opposition political parties of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai and the Zimbabwe People First, which was formed by former Vice President Joice Mujuru, had planned to stage a march in Harare on Friday.

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