Tens of thousands stage anti-corruption protest in Romania

Protesters block a main boulevard during a protest in Bucharest, Romania, on Saturday. (AP)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Tens of thousands stage anti-corruption protest in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania: Tens of thousands of Romanians on Saturday protested against legislation passed by Parliament which critics say will make it harder to prosecute crime and high-level corruption.
Protesters briefly scuffled with riot police as they massed in Bucharest’s University Square. Protesters shouted: “Thieves, thieves!” and “Resign!” and blew whistles and waved Romanian flags. They then marched toward Parliament.
Protesters of all ages came to vent their anger at the left-wing government, some accompanied by dogs or children.
Architect Tiberiu Calinescu, 30, who was carrying his 4-month-old daughter, said: “I have come here for the future of my daughter,” adding “I want to live in a Romania that is civilized and close to European” standards.
Diana Gradinaru, a 45-year-old economist, said the new legislation could result in “terrible thefts” by high-level officials, citing legislation that meant video and audio recordings could no longer be used as evidence in prosecutions.
There were smaller protests in the cities of Cluj, Timisoara, Constanta, Bacau, Sibiu and Iasi. Protesters began arriving earlier in the capital by train from other Romanian cities and were greeted by people waving Romanian flags.
Last year, Romania saw the biggest protests since communism ended after the left-wing government tried to decriminalize official misconduct.
Parliament last month approved amendments to laws that many say will lead to a backsliding on its anti-corruption fight.
Prime Minister-designate Viorica Dancila supports revamping the judicial system. She is an ally of Liviu Dragnea, chairman of the Social Democracy Party, who can’t be premier due to a conviction for vote-rigging.
President Klaus Iohannis, a critic of the amendments, needs to sign them into law. On Friday, he wrote to the Constitutional Court saying one amendment that would allow public officials to own businesses “diminished the standards of integrity” expected from public officials.


24 bodies retrieved from flooded Zimbabwe gold mine: report

A rescued artisanal miner is carried from a pit as retrieval efforts proceed for trapped illegal gold miners in Kadoma, Zimbabwe, February 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 February 2019
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24 bodies retrieved from flooded Zimbabwe gold mine: report

  • Formal unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent and artisanal gold mining, mostly in mines long abandoned by big corporates, is widespread providing a source of income for many

HARARE: Rescue workers retrieved 24 bodies and eight survivors Saturday from two flooded gold mines in Zimbabwe where officials fear dozens more illegal miners are still trapped, state television reported.
“Eight of the trapped minors have been rescued ... while 24 bodies have been retrieved to date as rescue efforts continue at Battlefields Mine,” the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation reported.
The two disused mines are situated near the town of Kadoma, 145 kilometers (90 miles) southwest of the capital Harare.
The rescued received medical attention on site before being take to hospital, but were in a stable condition, the report added.
Television footage showed some of the men, in soaked, muddy clothes, being helped to a makeshift clinic.
In a clip posted on Twitter, one survivor told journalists that the waters had risen to neck level, forcing them to stand for days until it receded.
On Friday the government said that between 60 and 70 “artisanal” miners were trapped in two shafts.
It launched an appeal for $200,000 to be used “to pump out water, feeding the bereaved families and the (rescue) teams on the ground, transportation and burial of the victims,” local minister July Moyo said in a statement.
“Given the magnitude of this disaster, we kindly appeal to individuals, development partners and the corporate world for assistance in cash and kind,” he said.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a deep economic crisis, the worst in a decade.
Annual inflation shot to 56.90 percent up from 42.09 percent in December 2018, according to official statistics released Friday, the highest increase in a decade. Economists say in reality prices have gone up more than three fold in recent months.
Formal unemployment is estimated at over 90 percent and artisanal gold mining, mostly in mines long abandoned by big corporates, is widespread providing a source of income for many.
Artisanal mining is not banned outright in Zimbabwe, and is largely unregulated.