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Zimbabwe Editor Arrested for Urging Mugabe to Step Down

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe takes part in meetings with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People (GHOP) in Beijing, Aug. 26, 2014.

The editor of The News Leader newspaper, Itai Dzamara, was arrested Friday after he called on President Robert Mugabe to step down in a petition that was delivered to the office of the head of state.

Dzamara and an activist identified as Tichaona Danho were arrested after petitioning President Mugabe over the poor performance of the country’s economy.

After delivering the petition, Dzamara and Danho went to Harare Central Police Station to notify the police that they were organizing protests that were set to begin next week in Harare.

Dzamara is also advertising the planned protests through his Facebook page and a WhatsApp group called Occupy Africa Unity Square.

Lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights are trying to locate the two.

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba told Studio 7 by phone that she was investigating the matter before publishing a statement.

A copy of the petition delivered to Mr. Mugabe’s office that is in Studio 7’s possession encourages the president to step down immediately and pave way for a process of engagement involving all national stakeholders, towards the establishment of a new administration that takes over, to manage the country and prepare for fresh elections.

The petition also advised Mr. Mugabe that the protests, dubbed Occupy Africa Unity Square, would start on Monday until the president left office and met other demands such as responding to the petition.

Before his arrest, Dzamara had also written on his Facebook page that he would be quitting journalism to focus on the anti-Mugabe demonstrations.

The petition also urged Mr. Mugabe not to unleash state security agents on people who would be demonstrating.

The planned demonstrations are fashioned along the lines of those that were held in Egypt and Tunisia that resulted in the leaders of those countries leaving office.