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Zimbabwe's Tsvangirai Charged With 'Riotous Behavior' For Store Tour

Zimbabwe police on Thursday brought charges of disorderly conduct and "riotous behavior" against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in connection with his August 1 tour of Harare stores devastated by the government's price-slashing campaign.

Tsvangirai, whose lawyer said he denied the charges, was questioned for two hours in the Harare Central Police Station. His faction of the Movement for Democratic Change accused the police of helping the ruling ZANU-PF settle political scores.

The opposition said the government is unhappy with the diplomatic initiative that took Tsvangirai to Australia recently and other opposition officials to regional capitals.

Police said Tsvangirai compromised security arrangements in touring stores August 1 with an entourage of journalists. If found guilty, he could face six months in jail or be fined. Tsvangirai was acquitted of capital treason charges in November 2004.

Lawyer Alec Muchadehama, who accompanied Tsvangirai to the police station, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that police are also accusing Tsvangirai of inconveniencing customers during the tour of retail outlets.

In July the the government ordered manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers to slash prices by as much as 70% in an effort to rein in hyperinflation. Inflation in Zimbabwe totaled 7,634% over the 12 months through July, the government recently said.

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