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Zimbabwe Opposition Steps Up Election Campaign With Sunday Rallies

The faction of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change headed by MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai staged rallies today in Harare, the capital, building to the official launch September 9 of its presidential and general election campaigns.

National elections are slated for March 2008 after local council elections in January.

Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa said hundreds of supporters turned out for the rally in Harare. He said the opposition faction will expand urban and rural outreach to sensitize members and the public to the importance of the elections.

Chamisa expanded on the strategy in an interview with VOA reporter Chinedu Offor.

The Tsvangirai faction called a meeting Sunday with Zimbabweans emigrés in South Africa to discuss their demand to be able to cast votes in next year's ballots. The party says eligible Zimbabwean citizens should pressure Harare for the right to vote.

Tsvangirai was not at the meeting but was to address a Johannesburg rally Monday.

Elsewhere, party officials said about 29 members of the faction remained behind bars at the Nehanda police station in the Mkoba suburb of Gweru, the Midlands capital.

The activists were arrested on Saturday as they met to form a burial society. Police said they were being held under the Public Order and Security Act, which forbids the holding of public meetings without authorization.

But Mkoba parliamentarian Amos Chibaya told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe said no formal charges had been pressed.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...