Zambia 'deports wanted Zimbabwe leader'

Zambia has deported senior Zimbabwean opposition politician Tendai Biti to Zimbabwe in defiance of a court order, his lawyer has said.

Zambia’s government rejected Mr Biti’s request for asylum on Wednesday. He fled to Zambia after Zimbabwean police issued an arrest warrant for him, accusing him of inciting violence. Zambia’s opposition MDC Alliance has rejected President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s victory in last week’s elections, saying the result was rigged. A least six people were killed two days after the vote in clashes between security forces and MDC Alliance supporters demanding that their leader, Nelson Chamisa, be declared the winner. There was great optimism that the elections would bring real change after the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule last November. But the MDC Alliance says the security forces have launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition following the disputed poll. The government says the opposition is threatening stability, and efforts to rebuild Zimbabwe’s shattered economy. Mr Biti’s arrest warrant, seen by the BBC, says he “unlawfully” announced that Mr Chamisa had won the election. His lawyer Gilbert Phiri said Zambia’s High Court had issued a ruling on Wednesday night, stopping Mr Biti’s deportation. However, Zambian immigration and police officers refused to accept the court papers, and surrendered him to Zimbabwean law enforcement officers at a border post between the two countries, he said. “After sometime, we just saw a convoy exiting on the Zimbabwean side and Biti was immediately not reachable on phone. That’s how he has gone,” Mr Phiri said. On Wednesday, Zambia’s Foreign Minister Joe Malanji told the BBC that Mr Biti’s grounds for asylum were weak. Altogether the police are hunting for nine senior opposition officials in connection with post-election violence. Mr Biti was the minister of finance in a unity government formed after disputed elections in 2008 – and is credited with helping stabilise the economy after years of hyperinflation. The MDC Alliance has confirmed that it will challenge the presidential election result in court. BBC]]>

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