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Escalation Of Force Against Opposition Reflects Harare's Isolation - Analysts

Analysts say the use of deadly force by Zimbabwe police against opposition backers on Sunday and their subsequent roundup of opposition and civic leaders suggests the government of President Robert Mugabe has decided to step up the repression of dissent in disregard of public or international opinion..

Harare police, attempting to disperse a crowd bent on attending what organizers of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign said was to be a prayer meeting Sunday, opened fire on a crowd, killing an activist of the Movement for Democratic Change. State officials accused organizers of violating a three-month state ban on all political gatherings.

MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai was arrested and, his lawyer and others said, severely beaten, while the whereabouts and condition of rival faction leader Arthur Mutambara, could not be determined by his party or his legal counsel.

Analysts say the police display of brutality against citizens strongly suggests that the Zimbabwean government sees itself as isolated thus with nothing to lose.

Reporter Ndimyake Mwakalyelye of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with two experts about the weekend violence: Gabriel Shumba, executive director of the South African-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum, and Farai Maguwu, coordinator of the Civic Alliance for Democracy and Governance.

Maguwu, currently based at the European University for Peace in Brussels, said the government's escalation of violence reflects the breakdown of the rule of law.

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