Demos: Mugabe makes arrests as Libya burns

Zimbabwean police have detained a former lawmaker and 46 other people at a meeting discussing the protests in Egypt which pushed president Hosni Mubarak out of power, a lawyer said on Monday.

In Libya, Angry Libyan protesters attacked the state broadcaster and set government buildings ablaze on Monday as the son of leader Muammar Gaddafi warned the country faces civil war and “rivers of blood”.

With gunfire crackling in the streets of Tripoli, and Human Rights Watch putting the death toll at 233 since Thursday, Saif al-Islam Kadhafi vaguely promised reforms as he condemned the revolt as a foreign plot.

The elder and famously mercurial Gaddafi, 68, the longest-serving leader in the Arab world, remained out of sight as a human rights group said several cities were in the hands of the protesters, including Sirte where he has long received foreign visitors.

“Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms… rivers of blood will run through Libya,” he said in a fiery but rambling televised speech that betrayed a note of desperation within his father’s 41-year regime.

“We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet. We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other… Libya is not Egypt, it is not Tunisia.”

Within hours of the statement, protesters in the capital Tripoli attacked state broadcast offices and set branches of the People’s Committees that are the mainstay of the regime ablaze overnight, witnesses told AFP on Monday.

“The headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia radio have been sacked,” one witness said by telephone on condition of anonymity.

Harare – Zimbabwean police have detained a former lawmaker and 46 other people at a meeting discussing the protests in Egypt which pushed president Hosni Mubarak out of power, a lawyer said on Monday.

“They were picked up late on Saturday afternoon at a meeting where they were discussing the events in Egypt and whether other countries would follow what happened there,” attorney Rose Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told AFP.

Among the arrested were Munyaradzi Gwisai, a university lecturer and former lawmaker from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, members of the audience and some passers-by.

The group is being held at Harare central police station and no one is yet to be formally charged, but Hanzi said police had indicated they could be charged for attempting to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means.

“The police just arrested everyone at the venue. It was indiscriminate,” Hanzi said.

“One or two of the arrested said they were walking past the venue and others just happened to be in the building and were also picked up.”

Police could not be reached for comment but provincial police spokesperson James Sabau was quoted in a state newspaper confirming the arrests.

He said police also seized a video projector, two DVDs and a laptop at the meeting whose theme was “Revolt in Egypt and Tunisia: What lessons can be learnt by Zimbabwe and Africa?”

“The video showed the uprising and demonstrations and the subsequent removal of President Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (of Tunisia),” the paper quoted Sabau as saying.

– AFP

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