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Zimbabwe faces G8 criticism
The leaders of the world's top industrialised countries are expected to condemn the situation in Zimbabwe at the end of their summit on Tuesday.
British officials at the G8 summit in France say a statement will berate the government of President Robert Mugabe for the latest crackdown on the opposition.
On Monday police fired tear gas and shots to disperse demonstrators across Zimbabwe, on the first day of a week of protests organised by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The mass action is designed to drive Mr Mugabe from power.
The authorities have declared the protests illegal and warned that anyone taking part in them will "face the full wrath of the law".
British officials at the G8 summit in the French town of Evian say the statement on Zimbabwe is important because it will maintain pressure on Mr Mugabe.
There will be a call for other southern African countries to increase their efforts to make the Zimbabwean president ease his grip on the country.
In London, UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appealed to the Harare government to allow people to demonstrate.
"Many Zimbabweans have chosen this week to express their legitimate concerns about the crisis facing their country," Mr Straw said in a statement issued on Monday.
At least one person was shot during Monday's disturbances. The French news agency AFP said police rounded up protesters and beat them with batons.
Earlier on Monday, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was charged with contempt of court after being arrested at his home.
Mr Tsvangirai was picked up at his house and held at a police station in Harare for several hours before being charged and released.
The MDC says its activists, including several MPs, have been arrested in Masvingo and Victoria Falls, as well as Harare and Bulawayo.
Other opposition leaders are reported to have gone into hiding.
The High Court in Zimbabwe banned the protests after police filed an application saying they would undermine law and order and challenge the country's constitutional democracy.
In a statement issued on Monday, the MDC said economic life in Zimbabwe had been brought to a "total standstill" and called on people to continue with the strikes and protests throughout the week.
It said Mr Mugabe's government was responsible for "hunger, inflation of 300%, chronic shortages of fuel, chronic shortage of energy, an unemployment rate of well over 70%".
President Mugabe, in power since the country gained independence from Britain in 1980, blames the crisis on opponents of his seizures of land from the white minority for redistribution among landless blacks.
Zimbabwe is under sanctions from the European Union, the United States and the Commonwealth over alleged vote-rigging by the ruling party in last year's presidential elections.
By Jeremy Scott-Joynt
BBC News Online business reporter
Riot police broke up Monday's demonstrations
Not, some observers might say, that it makes much difference.
After four years of land seizures and dubious economics, a country which was once southern Africa's breadbasket is widely seen as a basket case by almost everyone except the Mugabe government itself, with its gross domestic product down 27% on the late 1990s.
A net exporter throughout most of its 23 years of independence, seven million of Zimbabwe's 12 million people are now believed to be at serious risk of famine.
The government's position is that this is the fault of the drought conditions which have gripped the region.
Certainly the drought has hit the whole of southern Africa hard.
But an alternative explanation can be found in agricultural production figures.
Almost all white-owned land - admittedly about two-thirds of all the country's good arable land - has now been seized, ostensibly for redistribution to black farmers.
Black farm workers suffered from the land seizures too
Cash crops too are failing, with the tobacco harvest down to an expected 120 million kg this year from more than 200 million in 2001.
And hundreds of thousands of hectares are being given to Libya and China in exchange for the fuel imports which keep the economy barely afloat.
Others go to government and military figures, who critics say are spending the gains from Zimbabwe's involvement in looting the Democratic Republic of Congo on property in Harare.
But then so is everyone else, since with inflation at 269% - and set to reach 500%, the pessimists say, by the end of the year - property is just about the only sure store of value.
The fuel situation is another symptom of crisis. Fuel prices have gone up 600% since February to 450 Zimbabwean dollars for petrol and Z$200 for diesel.
Banknotes, like food and fuel, are in short supply
The Zimbabwe dollar is officially set at an exchange rate of Z$55 to the US dollar - a rate at which a tube of toothpaste can cost more than US$20. That's if you can get any, of course: foreign currency is in short supply, and has been for years.
Exporters, though, can get Z$800 to the US dollar, after the government changed the rules to try to stop them from going under.
The reason? The unofficial rate - the parallel market price, as it is known - is between Z$1,500 and Z$2,000, and that is the price exporters have to pay for their inputs.
Banking on change
Few people can think about that, because even the one in three people who actually have a job have little to buy with their huge stacks of banknotes; the shelves of shops are often bare even of essentials.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is now printing banknotes on a three-shift basis, and according to the state media, its governor, Leonard Tsumba, has just stepped down.
According to the government, this is all the fault of the British and of black Zimbabweans in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who are acting as their "slaves".
Monday's strikes are all part of the same effort at subversion, according to Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.
But the MDC, and the thousands of people backing its call for the national strike, seem to think otherwise.