Demonstrators in Zimbabwe today held the largest protest against President Robert Mugabe in nearly a decade, marching through central Harare demanding that the 92-year-old leader make a "dignified exit."
French news agency, AFP, said the demonstrations by more than 2 000 supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) carrying anti-Mugabe placards and singing party songs before their leader Morgan Tsvangirai gave a speech attacking Mugabe's rule, were under the watchful eye of riot police.
Police had barred the protest claiming they did not have enough manpower to control the demonstrators but the ban was overturned by the court.
"Mugabe has no solution to the crisis," Tsvangirai said in a brief speech to supporters gathered in Africa Unity Square wearing T-shirts in the party's red colours.
"We are here to tell Mugabe and his regime that you have failed. We are not demanding an overthrow of the government… We are demanding a dignified exit for the tired Mugabe. It's time Mugabe listens to the voice of the people. The people shall liberate themselves,” AFP quoted Tsvangirai as saying.
MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said this was a demonstration against poverty and corruption.
"We have an empty promise of 2.2 million jobs which are not there. We have massive corruption," he said.
According to AFP, marchers were greeted by blaring car horns, and clapping and whistles by onlookers, including some people waving from windows in high-rise buildings.
"Old clueless Mugabe must go," read one protest placard, while another said "Enough" in Zimbabwe's three main languages.
The last big demonstration in Harare was in 2007 when police beat up Tsvangirai and other political leaders who had gathered for a prayer meeting.
The Herald, which carried a live-steam of the demonstration, brushed it off saying only scores of people had participated in the march.
It said some of the youths had been given money to go and buy alcohol and returned carrying Chibuku Super.
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