[JURIST] Zimbabwe police charged opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] with disorderly conduct Thursday for allegedly causing a disturbance in early August by touring markets, according to a spokesperson for Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change [party website]. The charges, which the party said amounted to political intimidation, were brought only days after Tsvangirai returned from an overseas tour in which the opposition leader publicly criticized the government of President Robert Mugabe [BBC profile; JURIST news archive].
Mugabe has been harshly criticized for his handling of the economy and for his increasingly authoritarian rule. Zimbabwe's inflation rate, which is reportedly exceeding 5000 percent, is largely attributed to Mugabe's controversial white-owned farm seizure program as previously productive farms have become barren under inexperienced new owners. In June, the International Commission of Jurists accused [JURIST report] the Zimbabwean government of "interfering with the proper functioning of the administration of justice, the role of lawyers and their independence." Last month, a coalition of Zimbabwean human rights groups reported that alleged cases of human rights abuses were nearing record numbers [JURIST reports]. AP has more.