Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe

Washington - The US State Department said on Tuesday that Robert Mugabe had failed to heed the lessons from Arab revolts against longtime autocrats after the arrest of scores of Zimbabweans who met to discuss them.

“Activists meet in Zimbabwe to discuss the implications of Egypt and Tunisia and end up arrested. Mugabe did not learn the right lessons,” spokesman Philip Crowley wrote on the micro-blogging website Twitter.

Zimbabwean police had detained a former lawmaker and 46 others at a meeting discussing the protests in Egypt which pushed President Hosni Mubarak out of power after a 30-year-reign, a lawyer said on Monday.

“They were picked up late Saturday afternoon at a meeting where they were discussing the events in Egypt and whether other countries would follow what happened there,” attorney and rights activist Rose Hanzi told AFP.

Among the arrested were Munyaradzi Gwisai, a university lecturer and former lawmaker from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, members of the audience and some passers-by.

Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980, has been nominated by his party to stand again for president in elections expected later this year, which will end his shaky power-sharing government with long-time rival Tsvangirai. - Sapa-AFP