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Under Heavy Pressure, Zimbabwe Opposition Rallies Provincial Base

Though under heavy pressure from the Harare government for the past six weeks, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai managed to stage rallies on the weekend in several provincial towns, MDC officials said.

Rallies were held in Manicaland province in its capital, Mutare, and in Makoni, in the Midlands provincial capital of Gweru, and in Bikita in Masvingo province, as well as in the Harare-area township of Epworth, opposition sources said.

But a rally called in Chitungwiza, a satellite town south of Harare, where Tsvangirai faction secretary for land Vincent Gwaradzimba was scheduled to speak, failed to take place when the police dispersed those supporters who tried to gather there.

Police banned rallies in the provinces of Harare, Chitungwiza and Masvingo earlier this year, citing the risk of violence. The ban was later lifted in Masvingo.

Police in Mutare banned loudspeakers, singing and dancing as a condition for the rally to be held, but the crowd defied the order by chanting slogans and singing.

Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the fact the police allowed the rallies to take place does not mean the MDC has reached an understanding with authorities.

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