HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwean pastor Evan Mawarire was charged Wednesday with attempting to overthrow a constitutionally elected government for organizing a nationwide strike which shut the country down last week.
The public gallery was packed with Mawarire’s supporters who laughed when the prosecutor announced the new charges which are more serious than the initial charge of inciting public violence upon which Mawarire was arrested Tuesday.
Water cannons and riot police surrounded the Harare Magistrates Court to prevent protests over Mawarire’s court appearance.
But dozens of activists wearing Zimbabwe’s flag are sang, chanted slogans and prayed outside the court. Mawarire came to prominence with a social media campaign called #ThisFlag in which he urges Zimbabweans to reclaim their flag by urging President Robert Mugabe’s government to properly manage the country’s battered economy.
Many people answered Mawarire’s call on social media last week for a job boycott to protest dismal economic conditions. It was the largest stayaway in nearly 10 years.
Another boycott had been called for Wednesday, but the response appeared muted. The government has warned organizers of further protests that “they will face the full wrath of the law.”
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