Zimbabwean opposition politician Tendai Biti has appeared in court in handcuffs on charges of inciting violence after he was deported from Zambia. Zambia’s government rejected biti’s request for asylum on Wednesday with Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa saying that biti had been released on bail following his intervention.
Prosecutors accuse Biti of fuelling illegal protests by rejecting Mnangagwa’s victory in the fiercely contested elections on 30 July.
At least six people were killed two days after the vote in clashes between security forces and MDC Alliance supporters who alleged that their leader, Nelson Chamisa, had been robbed of victory.
There was great optimism that the elections would bring real change after the end of Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule in November, but the MDC Alliance says the security forces have launched a brutal crackdown on the opposition following the disputed poll.
Biti is the first senior opposition politician to be detained since Mnangagwa took over.
Prosecutors say Biti falsely declared Chamisa the winner of the election, and encouraged his supporters to damage property during protests against the election results. Biti was freed on bail, and ordered to surrender his passport.
Mnangagwa however said that because of the serious nature of the allegations against Biti, due process will continue.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency said it was gravely concerned by reports that Biti had been deported while trying to claim asylum in Zambia.
Biti was the minister of finance in a unity government formed after disputed elections in 2008 and is credited with helping stabilize the economy after years of hyperinflation.