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Harare Braces itself for a Showdown

Zimbabwe’s security forces on Thursday cleared people off streets of the capital Harare and forced shops to close, a day before planned anti-government protests during the worst economic crisis in nearly a decade. Activists have called for street rallies on Friday against corruption in government and economic hardships including soaring inflation that has eroded salaries and pensions. Armed soldiers and anti-riot police patrolled on foot and in trucks, telling people to leave central Harare. A police statement said no demonstrations would be allowed on Friday. “All security arms of government are on full alert and will deal decisively with any individuals or groups fomenting violence and sending threats or provocative messages through the social media or any other means,” it said. Soldiers manned checkpoints on roads leading into the city centre, with vehicles turned back. After midday, downtown Harare was largely empty.