Robert Mugabe lambasts Zimbabwe judges over protests

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Members of the main opposition parties protest outside the Harare Magistrates Courts (26 August 2016)
The opposition held a series of demonstrations over the last month

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has criticised judges who give permission for anti-government protests which later turn violent.

He said the judges showed a reckless disregard for peace, and warned that they should not dare to be negligent when making decisions.

The opposition has accused him of trying to intimidate the judiciary.

On Monday, opposition supporters are going to court to challenge a two-week ban on demonstrations.

There have been a number of violent protests in Zimbabwe in recent weeks as the country’s economic crisis deepens.

The president recently warned protesters there would be no Zimbabwean uprising similar to the “Arab Spring”.

He has routinely blamed the country’s economic problems on sabotage by Western critics of his policies – which include the seizure of white-owned commercial farms for black people.

The opposition says the latest demonstration ban is unconstitutional and has approached the High Court to challenge it.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (03 September 2016)
Mr Mugabe accuses the courts of being too lenient to protesters
Police in Harare (26 August 2016)
Police say that they do not always have the resources to deal with demonstrations

Mr Mugabe was reported to have told a conference of the governing Zanu-PF’s youth wing on Saturday that “enough is enough” and he would not permit violent protests to carry on.

The latest bout of violence began more than a week ago when tear gas and water cannon were used by police to stop protesters.

“Our courts, our justice system, our judges should be the ones who understand even better than ordinary citizens. They dare not be negligent in their decisions when requests are made by people who want to demonstrate,” the Sunday News quoted Mr Mugabe as saying.

The president said there was violence each time the court had allowed the protests to go ahead.

Police routinely blame a lack of manpower and the security threat as reasons for barring opposition protests, but their arguments have often been overturned by the High Court.

Mr Mugabe, 92, recently arrived back in Zimbabwe from abroad amid rumours about his state of health, joking at the main airport in Harare that he had died and been resurrected.

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