Zimbabwe's Attorney General Blocking Release Of Political Detainees, Says Tsvangirai

Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday accused the country's attorney general of blocking the release of detained political and rights activists despite an approval from President Robert Mugabe for their release.

Tsvangirai said that he had reached a deal with President Mugabe over the release of the detained political and rights activists, adding that Mugabe had agreed to release opposition activists detained over alleged subversion and terrorism charges on bail and to the unconditional release of those who are yet to be charged.

"Rather than allowing the judicial process to take its course with regard to the granting of bail, the attorney general's office is willfully obstructing the release of all detainees by abusing the appeal process, and this must stop forthwith," Tsvangirai said.

Presently, some 40 opposition and human rights activists, including Tsvangirai's MDC party ministerial nominee Roy Bennett and human rights activist Jestina Mukoko, are being held in Zimbabwean jails on charges of terrorism and subversion.

The MDC alleges that their arrests are politically motivated and says that it is an attempt by hardliners in President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to derail the coalition. They are also demanding the release of Bennett, along with over 40 other MDC supporters and activists who have been arrested in recent months.

On Wednesday, Tsvangirai also condemned the alleged attempts by militant supporters of President Robert Mugabe to seize dozens of white-owned in Zimbabwe, and called for an immediate end to such attacks.

"I have asked the ministers of home affairs... to bring the full weight of the law down on the perpetrators who continue to act within a culture of impunity and entitlement," he said. "No person in Zimbabwe is above law."

Tsvangirai said that he would discuss these issues with President Mugabe, adding that as long as "these matters remain unresolved it will be impossible for the transitional government to move forward."

Earlier in the month, Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister in country's new unity cabinet, which was formed after months of negotiations to end the political crisis in Zimbabwe and to pull back the impoverished African country from economic collapse.

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