efe-epaHarare

Zimbabwe's security forces on Wednesday arrested one of the staunchest opposition activists in the country, the activist's lawyers told EFE.

Pastor Evan Mawarire, 41, who gained notoriety for promoting the popular anti-government movement called "This Flag" during the final years of President Robert Mugabe's tenure in power (1987-2017), was arrested Wednesday morning on charges of incitement to violence.

Doug Coltart, one of Mawarire's legal representatives, told EFE that the charges are baseless.

Zimbabwe is in the midst of a general strike called for Monday by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions against President Emmerson Mnangagwa's decision Saturday to double fuel prices, in addition to claims of worsening economic conditions across the African country.

Mnangagwa's government recently increased the price of gasoline to $3.31 for a liter from $1.38 and hiked diesel from $1.45 to $3.11, which could be paid in promissory notes issued by the authorities due to the shortage of United States dollars, which are commonly-used in the country.

Some economists argue that the price hikes make sense, although the increase could cause other commodities' expenses to spike. Meanwhile, the country's main trade unions contend that the government's price hikes are a harsh blow for workers and the average Zimbabwean.

On Monday, police fired live ammunition and tear gas at protesters after demonstrators reportedly set up barricades in major cities, looted shops, threw stones at police vehicles and set fire to one police station in the country.

Police actions against protesters throughout Zimbabwe have already killed several people, and injured dozens. Organizations such as Amnesty International speak of eight deaths, but the most repeated figure in the local press is that of five killed to date.

Also, the internet connection has been cut in Zimbabwe in a move some onlookers say is to prevent further support for protests.

Mnangagwa, 76, who led a coup to oust the then 93-year-old Mugabe from power in Nov. 2017, is still considered by many protesters to be the elite's choice for president.

Zimbabwe's president is currently out of the country on a foreign tour and met with President Vladimir Putin in Russia Tuesday and is planning to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland which is set to occur from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25.