Zimbabwe police fire tear gas at opposition supporters

HARARE, ZIMBABWE (AP) – Zimbabwe police with riot gear fired tear gas and struck people who gathered yesterday to hear a speech by the country’s top opposition leader.

Dozens of people ran and dodged baton blows in the capital, Harare. Officers cordoned off the Movement for Democratic Change party headquarters ahead of Nelson Chamisa’s speech and patrolled with water cannons.

Public discontent has grown in Zimbabwe with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has struggled to fulfil promises of economic prosperity and more political freedoms.

The health system has largely collapsed amid the worst economic crisis in more than a decade.

Chamisa continues to dispute his narrow loss to Mnangagwa in last year’s election.

Only pro-government marches have been allowed in recent months, while similar moves by the opposition, labour and human rights groups have been met with strong police action. Police denied accusations they had banned this latest event.

Spokesman Paul Nyathi said police and opposition organisers agreed to move the event to a venue on the city’s outskirts.

Police surround opposition party supporters who had gathered to hear a speech by the country’s top opposition leader in Harare. PHOTO: AP