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Riot police patrol Zimbabwe cities

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Zimbabwe opposition supporters clash with police during a protest march for electoral reforms on August 26, 2016 in Harare. Riots erupted in Zimbabwe's capital Harare after police fired tear gas and beat protesters who responded by throwing stones in the latest of a string of tense demonstrations.  The violence came a day after a High Court judge had ordered police "not to interfere (with), obstruct or stop the march". Dozens of police blocked off the site of an opposition rally to demand electoral reforms before 2018 when 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for decades, will seek re-election. / AFP PHOTO / WILFRED KAJESE

Zimbabwe opposition supporters clash with police during a protest march for electoral reforms on August 26, 2016 in Harare.<br />Riots erupted in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare after police fired tear gas and beat protesters who responded by throwing stones in the latest of a string of tense demonstrations. The violence came a day after a High Court judge had ordered police “not to interfere (with), obstruct or stop the march”. Dozens of police blocked off the site of an opposition rally to demand electoral reforms before 2018 when 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for decades, will seek re-election. / AFP PHOTO / WILFRED KAJESE

Riot police patrolled Zimbabwe’s capital Harare and other cities Wednesday after authorities vowed to prevent further protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Organisers of recent demonstrations had planned a “shutdown” protest day, but shops and offices were open as usual in Harare.

Trucks carrying riot police were also on duty and traffic was sparse in the second city of Bulawayo, where anti-government protests were planned later in the day.

“Business is low and there are fewer people selling wares on the pavements,” Zivanai Muzorodzi, a civil society activist in the south-eastern town of Masvingo, told AFP.

“I think there is fear among the people and they feel safer watching the situation from a distance.”

On Saturday, Mugabe vowed to end a series of protests that have erupted in recent months as Zimbabwe’s economic crisis has worsened and the government has struggled to pay its civil servants and military.

Last week police arrested at least 70 people including Promise Mkwananzi, leader of the Tajamuka protest campaign, when street protests were held in Harare to demand reform ahead of elections due in 2018.

Mugabe, 92, has ruled since the country’s independence in 1980, and has vowed to stand again as president.

He has previously crushed dissent during his authoritarian rule, and speculation has risen over his succession amid increasing signs of ill health.

Mkwananzi was denied bail on Monday, and a court was due to decide Wednesday whether to release the others arrested with him on bail.


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