Zimbabweans march in Harare to demand Mugabe departure

The demonstrators hope a big turnout will speed up the official end of Robert Mugabe’s rule, which is widely blamed for the collapse of Zimbabwe’s economy that was once one of Africa’s wealthiest. (AP)
Updated 18 November 2017
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Zimbabweans march in Harare to demand Mugabe departure

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Euphoric crowds have gathered in Zimbabwe’s capital to demand the departure of President Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power.
In a colorful gathering that even days ago would have drawn an immediate police crackdown, Zimbabweans giddy with joy raced through intersections, raising their arms in triumph. Young men shouted, laughed and embraced.
Some had posters with an image of the military commander who swept in earlier this week and put Mugabe under house arrest, with the slogan: “Go, go, our general!!!” Marchers handed flags to soldiers, who accepted and waved.
“It’s like Christmas,” said one marcher, Fred Mubay, who said Zimbabweans have been suffering for a long time.
The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, is said to be asking for more time amid negotiations that seek his exit with a veneer of dignity.
But he is virtually powerless and deserted by most of his allies, and the crowds in Harare on Saturday were making it clear the country was ready to move on without him.
Even as concerns remained about who next would be in charge and what freedoms might be available if the military lingered in power — or if Mugabe’s longtime but recently fired deputy led a new government — people reveled in the rare chance to speak out.
The demonstrators, in an event approved by the military, hope a big turnout will speed up the official end of Mugabe’s rule, which is widely blamed for the collapse of an economy that was once one of Africa’s wealthiest.
Crowds gathered on main streets as cars honked their horns and people whistled and cheered, even as many continued to go about their daily business.
Veterans of the long liberation war against white minority rule, once close allies of Mugabe, took part, along with opposition activists who have faced police crackdowns by the Mugabe government.
At an intersection, a vendor held up a newspaper with the headline: “Mugabe cornered.”
One driver was so jubilant that he got out of his moving car and danced in front of it for a couple of minutes as the empty vehicle coasted slowly down a street lined with cheering crowds.
Some white Zimbabweans joined the crowd at Harare’s Freedom Square, also known as Robert Mugabe Square. Some whites and blacks hugged each other.


Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

Updated 24 May 2018
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Death toll from anti-Vedanta protests in south India rises to 13

TUTICORIN, India: A protester shot during demonstrations against a copper plant in southern India died of his injuries Thursday, officials said, the 13th victim killed by police fire.
A curfew remained in pockets of Tuticorin city in Tamil Nadu state where police used live ammunition to disperse protesters this week, provoking international outrage and demands for an immediate investigation.
Calls for the copper smelting plant owned by British mining giant Vedanta Resources to be closed had been building in recent months, with residents complaining it was polluting their city.
The resistance came to a head Tuesday when police stopped a crowd of thousands from protesting outside the factory.
Cars and buildings were set ablaze and rocks hurled at police, who responded with live fire. Eleven demonstrators were shot dead and many people injured in the melee, including 20 police.
Another protester died Wednesday when he was struck by rubber bullets in a second day of protests.
The latest victim died in hospital Thursday, two days after being injured, doctors said.
“He was brought in a critical condition with bullet injuries and died today,” a doctor at the local hospital said.
The chief minister of Tamil Nadu has ordered an inquiry but defended the actions of police, which the state’s opposition leader called “mass murder.”
“The police have a duty during protests to maintain law and order, but lethal force can only be used if there is an imminent threat to life,” Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
“Tamil Nadu authorities need to carry out a prompt and credible investigation to determine if police used excessive force.”
Internet services have been blocked across the city for five days. Police justified the blackout to stop the spread of information that could incite further violence as they search for those behind Tuesday’s arson attacks.
Environmentalists and locals say the factory contaminates water and air, claims its owners deny.
The company has sought to renew the license of the temporarily non-operational plant and hopes to double its production capacity.
But a state court Wednesday ordered that it cease any further construction at the new site.
The ruling came just hours after Tamil Nadu’s pollution board ordered the existing plant be shut and its power supply cut until a verdict is made on its licensing application.