Zimbabwe parties trade blame after mob rampage

Tue Feb 8, 2011 9:22am GMT

* More than a dozen arrested

* ZANU-PF and MDC trade accusations over violence

By MacDonald Dzirutwe

HARARE, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Police have arrested more than a dozen youths after a mob looted shops in Harare, and the two main parties in Zimbabwe's uneasy unity government traded accusations over who was to blame for a spate of violence.

Police said they had allowed youths from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party to demonstrate against Harare city council for awarding a car parking contract to a South African firm but the protest had been infiltrated by criminals.

"We have arrested some known criminals from Mbare (a suburb) and we are still investigating the group that infiltrated the march," police spokesman James Sabawu told Reuters on Tuesday.

A Reuters witness saw shattered windows and empty shops early on Tuesday. Most of the shops remained closed.

Members of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have warned unity government partner and rival Mugabe to drop plans for an early election, saying the poll could lead to a bloodbath. The state-owned Herald newspaper said those arrested in Monday's incident were suspected MDC supporters and quoted Defence Minister and Mugabe ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as blaming Tsvangirai for the violence.   Continued...

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