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Zimbabwe militants block US envoy`s meeting

Last Updated: Friday, July 22, 2011 - 12:44

Harare: Police and supporters of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe`s party blocked a meeting where US Ambassador Charles Ray said Thursday he was supposed to talk with a group of young people.

Police had granted approval for the meeting in the mining town of Kwekwe, but at the last minute revoked their decision, Ray said in a statement.

"The police in Kwekwe refused to allow the event to go forward," Ray said.

"It is regrettable that elements of the security sector and some political parties remain afraid of allowing a free exchange of ideas and have yet again shown themselves intent on barring members of the public from engaging in genuine dialogue."

Under Zimbabwe`s security laws, meetings of five or more people require police approval.

Militants overran the meeting, distributing flyers in support of Mugabe, a US embassy official said.

"Youth went around distributing fliers and saying the meeting should not go head as it coincided with the burial of a national hero," the official said.

One of the fliers thanked Mugabe for "giving us land, mines, black empowerment. Charles Ray, you are a little American major".

Supporters of Mugabe`s ZANU-PF party have repeatedly disrupted political meetings across the country, particularly targeting outreach programmes meant to gather views on a new constitution ahead of new elections.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 - 12:44

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