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More Arrests In Harare As National Constitutional Assembly Protests Ban On Rallies

Police in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare arrested about 30 protesters Thursday as the National Constitutional Assembly, a civic group, held a march through the center of the city to challenge a ban the government imposed last month on political rallies.

Riot police halted the approximately 300 protesters who waved placards and sand as they tried to march to the Zimbabwean parliament. Witnesses said police sealed off the parliament and the park known as Africa Unity Square adjacent to it.

NCA officials said the organization also wanted to publicize a rally called Sunday in the Harare suburb of Highfield by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, an umbrella group that brings together churches, civil society groups and opposition parties against President Robert Mugabe.The heads of both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change are expected to appear at the rally along with NCA Chairman Lovemore Madhuku.

A spokesman for the police, Wayne Bvudzijena, said authorities would not allow the rally to take place. But the organizers have vowed to press ahead with the rally.

Madhuku told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the protests are intended to show authorities that the ban will have no effect and to encourage more Zimbabweans to take to the streets to protest deteriorating living conditions.

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