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Harare - Zimbabwe police on Friday raided a pirate radio station critical of President Robert Mugabe and arrested its editor amid a growing crackdown on media and rights groups ahead of crucial elections, a lawyer said.
“The charges are along the lines of having radios that have not been declared,” said Kucaca Phulu, the lawyer for Radio Dialogue, confirming the raid in the city of Bulawayo.
Editor Zenzele Ndebele was arrested during the raid, and some 180 radios were seized.
The station has been on air since 2001 and broadcasts current affairs programmes every evening.
Zimbabwe will on March 16 vote on a new constitution drafted by the shaky unity government of Mugabe and his arch-rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Elections to end the four-year government between the two leaders will be held later in the year.
The run-up to the polls has been marked by violence against political activists, media and civil society groups.
In 2008, supporters of Tsvangirai's Movement for Democracy (MDC) were targeted by security forces in what was seen as state-sponsored violence.
The violence forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from the 2008 presidential run-off.
This week police vowed to clamp down on civic society organisations ahead of the crucial vote, saying they pose a “serious security threat”.
Two weeks ago, police raided the offices of a local poll observer group, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN), by breaking part of their perimeter wall and confiscating documents. - Sapa-AFP