Robert Mugabe 'donkey' jibe - Solomon Madzore detained

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at a rally on 18 April 2013 Mr Mugabe, 89, is seeking to extend his rule in elections

Zimbabwe's authorities have ignored a court ruling to free an activist accused of calling President Robert Mugabe a "limping donkey" at an election rally, his lawyer says.

Charles Kwaramba said prosecutors had invoked a controversial law to keep Solomon Madzore in detention.

Mr Madzore denies a charge of insulting the president.

His MDC party is challenging Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party in elections due later this year.

The election will herald the end of the coalition government the two parties formed after elections marred by violence and alleged vote-rigging five years ago.

Mr Mugabe, in power since 1980, will be challenged by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, police on Tuesday arrested Zimbabwe Independent newspaper editor Dumisani Muleya and his reporter, Owen Gagare, on a charge of publishing falsehoods or information prejudicial to the state.

'Fabricated'

Mr Madzore, the leader of the MDC's youth wing, was arrested last week for allegedly calling Mr Mugabe 89, a "limping donkey" who should be put out to pasture, the BBC's Brian Hungwe reports from the capital, Harare.

Start Quote

No-one is above the law and immune from criticism, President Mugabe included”

End Quote Luke Tamborinyoka PM's spokesman

He allegedly made the remark at a campaign rally in Mushumbe, Mashonaland Central Province on 27 April.

Mr Kwaramba said a court had granted Mr Madzore bail on Monday, but he had not been released because prosecutors were citing a contentious appeal law to hold him for another seven days.

"My client was formally charged and he denies the charge - even uttering the statement to the effect that President Mugabe is a donkey," Mr Kwaramba said.

"He believes the charges are politically motivated and fabricated."

Under Zimbabwean law, a person could be jailed for up to a year or fined $100 (£64) for insulting the president's office.

In 2011, policeman Alois Mabhunu, was sentenced to 10 days in prison after he used a special presidential toilet at a trade fair.

Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka told the BBC that the MDC would scrap the law if it won elections.

"No-one is above the law and immune from criticism, President Mugabe included," he said.

"In a democratic society such laws should never have space."

The journalists' arrests came after their newspaper published a report alleging that army generals have been in secret talks with Mr Tsvangirai to discuss the post-election period.

The newspaper said it stood by the report.

Most military chiefs in Zimbabwe, who fought with Mr Mugabe in the 1970s war of independence, are publicly hostile to Mr Tsvangirai.

They have accused him of being a puppet of Britain, the former colonial power - an allegation he denies.

No date has been set for the elections - the first under a new constitution which is supposed to expand civil liberties in Zimbabwe.

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