updated 6/1/2008 4:23:29 PM ET 2008-06-01T20:23:29

Police arrested a top opposition leader Sunday for allegedly making false statements that endangered state security, his party said.

Arthur Mutambara, head of a faction of the Movement for Democratic Change, was taken from his home in Harare's northern suburbs and then locked in a jail in the western Harare township of Mbare, spokesman Romualdo Mavadzengi said.

Mutambara was arrested in connection with an April 20 article in the independent Standard newspaper in which he described irregularities in the conduct of the courts, judicial officials and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party in the March national elections.

In the article, Mutambara also accused Mugabe of betraying the nation's independence and coercing voters through violence and vote rigging, leaving the opposition "bludgeoned and brutalized."

No immediate comment was available from police Sunday.

Newspaper editor arrested in May
The editor of the Standard newspaper was arrested on May 8 for publishing Mutambara's article and has been freed on bail to await trial at an unspecified future date.

Mavadzengi said Mutambara also was accused of contempt of court for criticizing the judiciary in the article.

Mutambara's faction won 10 seats in the March 29 elections, giving the opposition a total of 110 seats in the 210-seat parliament.

Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party won 97 seats — losing control of the legislature for the first time since Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980. Three by-elections are pending.

Mutambara's faction had split earlier the bigger wing of the Movement for Democratic Change party led by Morgan Tsvangirai. But after the elections, the two men announced they would work together in an alliance against Mugabe.

Tsvangirai won the presidential ballot March 29 but not by an outright majority, and a runoff presidential is scheduled for June 27.

Mugabe has reappointed government ministers from his party — several of whom lost their seats in the parliamentary vote — and no indication has been given when the full legislature might be reconvened.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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