Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Protests erupted in two of Zimbabwe's major cities this week in response to the government's decision over the weekend to drastically hike fuel prices in a move to control access to the scarce commodity.
For months, gas has been greatly under-supplied in the country, causing motorists to line up for days, according to local news outlet the Centre For Innovation & Technology. After Saturday's announcement of a price hike, people took to the streets in unrest.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that diesel would rise from $1.24 a liter to $3.31. Gasoline increased from $1.36 a liter to $3.11, blaming the hike on the "increase of fuel usage in the economy and compounded by rampant illegal currents in the fuel-trading activities."
In the capital of Harare and the southwestern city of Bulawayo, protesters burned tires and barricaded major roads. Police and the army were deployed Monday to quiet the unrest, resulting in several deaths and hundreds of arrests, BBC News reported.
In Bulawayo, police fired tear gas canisters and used water cannons against protesters who vandalized a police vehicle and looted stores, as well as those marching toward the High Court.
The city was on lockdown, CITE reported.
The protesters are demanding Mnangagwa's resignation, Councillor Mlandu Ncube, a local youth leader, told CITE.
"The young people have come out in full force to show the government is not wanted," Ncube said. "We will continue with these protests until President Mnangagwa steps down from power."
Mnangagwa, who came to power in 2017, left the country Sunday for a five-nation trip to Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan, Azerbaijan and Switzerland to "enhance bilateral relations."