Jan. 21 (UPI) — Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced he plans to return from his trip abroad due to ongoing protests over rising fuel costs.
Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter Sunday that he would return from his trade mission to Russia and skip the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, after the protests in which at least a dozen people have been killed and the government has shut down the Internet twice.
“In light of the economic situation, I will be returning home after a highly productive week of bilateral trade and investment meetings,” he wrote. “We will be ably represented in Davos by Minister of Finance, Mthuli Ncube. The first priority is to get Zimbabwe calm, stable and working again.”
The protests began last week after Mnangagwa announced that the price of diesel fuel would rise from $1.24 a liter to $3.31, and the price of gasoline increased from $1.36 a liter to $3.11, blaming the “increase of fuel usage in the economy and compounded by rampant illegal currents in the fuel-trading activities.”
Protesters barricaded major roads and burned tires while police fired tear gas canisters and water hoses against demonstrators who vandalized a police vehicle, looted stores and marched toward the High Court.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum said Saturday that at least 12 people died in the protests as a result of either gunshots or blunt force trauma, Bloomberg reported. Another 78 were treated for gunshots and 242 others were treated for other injuries at hospitals throughout the country.
Zimbabwe’s government also shut down the Internet twice to cut down the flow of information in the country amid the protests.
Prior to announcing his return to Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa had been visiting Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan in hopes of garnering investments to repair the country’s economy.