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The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Harare
"The political temperature in Zimbabwe is higher than at any time since the June elections"
 real 28k

Monday, 9 October, 2000, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Zimbabwe democrat dodges arrest
Morgan Tsvangirai
Mr Tsvangirai faces possible treason charges
Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, is reportedly back home after avoiding Harare airport where police were waiting to arrest him for treason.

Officials of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) told the BBC that Mr Tsvangirai was at his Harare home where he would hold a news conference later on Monday.


What we would like to tell Mugabe is please go peacefully - if you don't want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently

Morgan Tsvangirai's controversial words
But the conference was delayed for three hours.

Mr Tsvangirai, who faces arrest for allegedly threatening President Robert Mugabe last week, did not arrive on any of the scheduled flights from his business trip to South Africa.

'Alternative means'

Speaking on BBC World, MDC spokesman Welshman Ncube said Mr Tsvangirai travelled by "alternative means".

Mr Ncube could not say how the MDC leader travelled or when he arrived.

Robert Mugabe
Mr Mugabe: Urged to go peacefully
Mr Ncube said it would emerge soon whether the police wanted to arrest him or merely question him.

"That remains to be seen but all the indications are that the police want, at the very least, to interview him," he said.

"But we have no doubt that they will seek to charge him, sooner rather than later."

Mr Tsvangirai told the crowd last week: "What we would like to tell Mugabe today is: Please go peacefully. If you don't want to go peacefully, we will remove you violently".

"The country cannot afford Mugabe a day longer than necessary", he said.

Death sentence

Three MDC members of parliament were arrested on Sunday night for allegedly inciting violence among their party supporters.

The BBC correspondent in Harare, Grant Ferrett, says the three MPs are popular figures among the opposition's youth wing, which planned to stage demonstrations at Harare airport to coincide with the arrival of Mr Tsvangirai.

There was tension at Harare airport where police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of opposition supporters who had gathered to welcome Mr Tsvangirai.

The state-owned Sunday Mail, which is seen as a mouthpiece of President Mugabe's ruling party, said that police had been stationed at the main airport since Friday waiting to arrest Mr Tsvangirai.

It quoted unidentified police and government officials as saying that the opposition leader would face charges of treason - which carries a possible death sentence.

The MDC has warned the government not to carry out the arrest of Mr Tsvangirai, saying such an arrest would be unjustified, unwise and likely to provoke unnecessary conflict.

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See also:

02 Oct 00 | Africa
Police consider Tsvangirai arrest
06 Jul 00 | Africa
Profile: Morgan Tsvangirai
30 Sep 00 | Africa
Opposition warning to Mugabe
25 Sep 00 | Africa
Parliament: Disillusion sets in
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