HARARE, Zimbabwe — Senior Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti on Thursday was charged with inciting public violence and declaring unofficial election results as fears grew about a government crackdown following the disputed July 30 election.
The court appearance followed a dramatic two days in which Biti fled to Zambia, was denied asylum, and was handed over to Zimbabwean security forces in defiance of a Zambian court order. Western diplomats, including from the United States, and the UN refugee agency quickly expressed concern.
‘‘We will keep on fighting,’’ Biti said as he arrived at court in the capital, Harare. The charge of inciting public violence could bring up to a decade in prison, while the charge of declaring unofficial election results carries a maximum six-month sentence. He was granted $5,000 bail but must surrender his passport, report to authorities twice a day, and not address political rallies.
Biti’s plight has raised concerns that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won the first election after the fall of Robert Mugabe, will treat the opposition just as harshly as before despite promises of reforms. The opposition says it is preparing a legal challenge to the election results, calling them fraudulent.
Shortly after Biti’s hearing, Mnangagwa said he had been released ‘‘following my intervention,’’ without giving details. In a series of posts on Twitter, the president said the case would continue ‘‘due to the serious nature of the allegations.’’