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Zimbabwe court acquits pastor of trying to overthrow Mugabe

Gorkha Post

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HARARE — A Zimbabwean court has acquited activist pastor Evan Mawarire on Wednesday after finding him not guilty of subversion trying to overthrow former president Robert Mugabe in protests last year that shut down major cities and paralysed public transport.

The court ruling came a week after Mugabe, who ruled for nearly 40 years, was ousted by a military intervention recently.

“There is no evidence that he (Mawarire) urged a violent removal of government,” high court judge Priscilla Chigumba said in her ruling.

The judge also said Mawarire had called for non-violent protests in response to the country’s economic crisis.

“This could be evidence of a freer Zimbabwe but this case had no legs to stand on. I think a lot more needs to be seen to determine whether this is a free judiciary going forward,” Mawarire told reporters in the courtroom soon after Judge Priscilla Chigumba’s judgment.

Mawarire became the face of anti-Mugabe demonstrations last year when he posted an Internet video of him wearing the national flag and lamenting Zimbabwe’s troubles.

In 2016, pastor Mawarire led a stay-at-home demonstration that lead to the first of his several arrests.The pastor’s #ThisFlag movement had been a thorn in the side of the former Mugabe government.

With Agency Inputs

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Economy

Govt decides to award Budhi Gandaki Hydel project to Chinese firm again

Gorkha Post

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KATHMANDU — The government has decided to award contract for the construction of the 1,200-megawatt Budhigandaki hydropower project, a national pride project, to China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) once again.

A Cabinet meeting on Friday has decided to award the contract for the project to CGGCL reverting the erstwhile Sher Bahadur Deuba government’s decision to develop the 1200MW project with internal resources.

The Cabinet meeting has directed the Energy Ministry to initiate the process to award the project to the Chinese company.

Following the government decision, the Energy Ministry will now invite the Chinese company for talks and prepare a draft of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) before signing it, according to multiple sources at the ministry.

As per the Cabinet decision, the ministry has been asked to hold talks with the Gezhouba, prepare a proposal, and strike a deal to execute the $2.5 billion reservoir project.

Earlier on May 15, 2017, the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to construct the Budhigandaki project to CGGCL, juat nine days before he was to resign from the PM’s post.

The Dahal-led government had awarded the contract to CGGCL at a cost of Rs 260 billion as per a study carried out by a French company, Tractebel Engineering.

The agreement, however, invited controversy as the project was handed to the Chinese company without initiating a competitive bidding process.

The Budhi Gandaki hydel project has been touted as a key project to resolve the perennial power crisis in the country. The government has allocated Rs18 billion for compensation payments and operational expenses for this fiscal year.

The Gorkha and Dhading district administration offices are currently distributing compensation to owners of the land taken over by the project.

More than 8,000 households will be affected by the project, according to the latest report.

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