Zimbabwe police stop US ambassador speech

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2011 6:53 AM
Zimbabwe police stop US ambassador speech

The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe says police stopped a youth meeting he was scheduled to address and militants from the president's party overran the gathering.

Ambassador Charles A. Ray said Thursday that Wednesday's meeting in central Zimbabwe was cleared to go ahead but was "disrupted" and stopped.

Ray says in a statement: "elements of the security sector and some political parties remain afraid of allowing a free exchange of ideas."

Witnesses say rowdy youths jeered at Ray and sang abusive songs. They waved fliers praising the policies of President Robert Mugabe and his military commanders.

Rights groups say political intimidation has surged since Mugabe called for early elections to bring an end the nation's shaky coalition.