Zimbabwe: Protest pastor charged with inciting violence
Online anti-corruption campaigner Evans Mawarire hands himself to police amid civil unrest.
John Cassim - HARARE, Zimbabwe (AA) - Zimbabwean police on Tuesday detained popular campaigner Pastor Evans Mawarire for calling on citizens to shut down the economically troubled nation this week.
Mawarire -- a leading figure of the #ThisFlag online campaign -- handed himself over to police Tuesday morning accompanied by his lawyer Harrison Nkomo.
Mawarire had been summoned by police for questioning over civil unrest which ensued when similar calls were made last week, virtually shutting down the ailing southern African country.
In Facebook posts, Mawarire gave aged Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a five-point ultimatum that included firing corrupt ministers, lifting an import ban on basic goods and reducing police road blocks.
According to his lawyer, Mawarire is being charged with inciting public violence.
He joins hundreds of Zimbabweans, including six school children, who have been arrested in the country from the time the turmoil started almost two weeks ago.
Other religious leaders later joined the calls for Mugabe to stand down.
Five pastors led by Remnant Church founder Patrick Mugadza announced the start of a 40-day prayer session under the banner #MugabeMustGo.
“As other people pile pressure on Mugabe to fix the economy we realized [that] just fixing the economy would not be enough but that Mugabe, whose administration has failed the nation, should step down,” Pastor Patrick Mugabe Mugadza told Anadolu Agency.
In recent days protesters have forced the authorities to close the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Similar protests have also hit the capital as drivers parked their buses complaining of numerous roadblocks and corrupt traffic police.
On July 6, businesses came to a halt in all major cities in response to a #ShutDownZimbabwe2016 call on social media.
Schools, shops, government offices and vending markets were closed nationwide.
Most of those arrested so far have been released on $50 and $100 bail.
Social media is becoming such a threat to the Zimbabwean government that a few days ago, a warning was issued against using WhatsApp to incite public protests or industrial unrest.
Communications Minister Supa Mandiwanzira denied the government was jamming WhatsApp when the messaging service went down from July 6.
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