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The Latest: US Africa envoy ‘deeply troubled’ by Zimbabwe

August 8, 2018

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe’s disputed election (all times local):

1:15 a.m.

The United States’ top diplomat for Africa says he is “deeply troubled by credible reports that opposition supporters are being targeted by members of the Zimbabwean security forces” and that senior opposition official Tendai Biti has fled the country.

Tibor Nagy, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in a series of posts on Twitter says he strongly urges authorities in neighboring Zambia to allow Biti to stay there until his asylum request can be “appropriately evaluated” or allow him safe passage to a third country.

Zambia’s foreign minister says the reasons Biti gave for seeking asylum “did not have merit, so he is being held in safe custody and we are trying to take him back to Zimbabwe.”

Concerns are rising over a Zimbabwe government crackdown after last week’s disputed presidential election. The opposition says it will challenge the results in court this week.

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7:30 p.m.

Human Rights Watch says Zimbabwe senior opposition official Tendai Biti has been denied asylum in Zambia and is being deported to Zimbabwe shortly.

Southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga says Biti told him that “It looks like they have made a decision to hand us back to the Junta. We are truly in God’s hands.”

Biti was detained Wednesday morning while trying to enter Zambia. He is part of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party that has denounced as fraud last week’s election win of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The MDC has said it will challenge the election results in court this week, while concerns grow about a crackdown on its officials and supporters.

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3:45 p.m.

A lawyer says Zimbabwe senior opposition official Tendai Biti has been released after being arrested while trying to enter Zambia and is now seeking asylum.

Denford Halimani says details are not immediately clear on the circumstances around Biti’s release but the lawyer can confirm that he is now on Zambian soil.

Outrage quickly followed Biti’s arrest on Wednesday morning.

Biti is part of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party that has denounced as fraud last week’s election win of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The MDC has said it will challenge the election results in court this week.

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11:45 a.m.

A Zimbabwean lawyer says that senior opposition official Tendai Biti has been arrested.

Nqobizitha Mlilo, the lawyer, said Biti was arrested Wednesday while trying to cross into Zambia. He said more details would be released later.

Biti, who was finance minister in a coalition government from 2009 to 2013, is part of the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, which has denounced as fraud last week’s election win of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The MDC has said it will challenge the election results in court.

Last week Biti declared, before official election results were announced, that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa had won the vote, a claim also made by Chamisa himself.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said it is illegal to announce results before its own official pronouncement.

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