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Page last updated at 18:15 GMT, Sunday, 8 June 2008 19:15 UK

Zimbabwe opposition MP released

Mugabe election poster in Zimbabwe. File pic.
Robert Mugabe faces the MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai on 27 June

A court in Zimbabwe has ordered the release of an opposition MP who had been arrested for the second time in a week on public order charges.

Authorities suspected Movement for Democratic Change lawmaker Eric Matinenga of election-related violence.

The MDC says Mr Matinenga is being harassed and accuses the government of trying to sabotage its poll campaign.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai faces incumbent Robert Mugabe in a run-off vote for the presidency on 27 June.

Rallies

Mr Matinenga had been arrested on 1 June accused of inciting public violence in his constituency.

A court ordered his release on Thursday saying he had no case to answer.

Police rearrested him on Saturday amid accusations he was paying activists to attack Mr Mugabe's supporters.

The MDC said in a statement it "welcomes the judgement as the only logical thing to do", saying Mr Matinenga's "quest for the freedom of the people of Zimbabwe is unquestionable".

Mr Tsvangirai was himself detained twice last week and the MDC has been hampered in its attempts to hold rallies.

The run-off vote follows controversial March elections. The much-delayed results showed Mr Tsvangirai ahead but not by enough to win outright.

Police tried to ban MDC rallies this weekend but that was overturned by Zimbabwe's High Court.

Reports say militants from Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party stopped an MDC rally in the capital Harare on Sunday although two more went ahead as planned.

Mr Mugabe is widely accused of economic mismanagement resulting in runaway inflation, soaring unemployment and the decline of Zimbabwe's agricultural sector, although he blames a Western conspiracy for the country's crisis.

With drought and failed harvests further reducing food supplies, aid agencies fear a rise in hunger.

Map of food shortages in Zimbabwe





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