Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Biti Held in Zambia, Lawyer Says

(Bloomberg) -- Former Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a leader of the country’s main opposition alliance, was arrested in neighboring Zambia where he plans to seek asylum, his lawyer said.

It’s unclear what Biti has been charged with, Nqobizitha Mlilo said by phone from the Chirundu border post in northern Zimbabwe. Biti fled the country because his life is in danger, Mlilo said in an interview broadcast on state television in South Africa.

“Mr. Biti will be seeking political asylum in Zambia,” Mlilo said. “His life has been in danger for a while, but also the lives of the members of his family.”

Biti is among opposition leaders who have questioned the outcome of last week’s presidential elections, in which the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front won a constitutional majority and its leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was elected president. The Movement for Democratic Change, a seven-party alliance led by Nelson Chamisa, plans to announce on Wednesday how it plans to challenge the vote results.

Biti told reporters the day after the July 30 vote that the opposition couldn’t account for 21 percent of the tally sheets that by law were supposed to be posted outside polling stations, but “from what we have received, it’s clear we’ve won.”

Biti, 51, was finance minister in a unity government formed in 2009, after a disputed 2008 vote, in which Zanu-PF shared power with the MDC. He split from the MDC after it was defeated in another contested vote in 2013, before reuniting with the alliance last year.

“He has always been an agent of peace who seeks to have a change in the
political regime in Zimbabwe,” Mlilo said.

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