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Senior opposition official arrested

Zimbabwean security agents arrested Roy Bennet, a white farmer who had been expropriated under Mugabe and who was to become the new agriculture minister - as PM Morgan Tsvangirai prepared to swear in the country's new cabinet.

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REUTERS - Zimbabwean security agents arrested a senior leader of the opposition MDC on Friday ahead of a swearing-in ceremony for a new unity cabinet in which he was due to take a post, a party official said.

 

If confirmed, the arrest will increase political tensions between President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF and new Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC soon after they ended a long deadlock in negotiations and agreed to implement a power-sharing deal.

 

"Roy Bennett was arrested a few minutes ago at Charles Prince Airport. I am not sure whether he was arriving or leaving," Ian Makone, a senior MDC official told Reuters.

 

Police were not immediately available for comment.

Bennett, the MDC Treasurer General, was nominated as deputy minister of agriculture by Tsvangirai.

 

Bennett has been living in exile in South Africa after fleeing the country about two years ago because police wanted to question him in connection with the discovery of an arms cache in eastern Zimbabwe.

 

Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed last September to share power, but the deal stalled for months as they haggled over the allocation of cabinet posts, stirring doubts over whether the old foes can work together to bring in foreign aid and investment.

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