Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe clings to power as deadline passes | News | DW | 20.11.2017
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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe clings to power as deadline passes

Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party will launch impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday, according to a government source. The 93-year-old leader has ignored a deadline for him to step down.

A Zimbabwean ruling party official told news agencies on Monday it would take ZANU-PF two days to impeach longtime leader Robert Mugabe.

Paul Mangwana, the party's deputy secretary for legal affairs, said lawmakers would move a motion for impeachment and create an investigative committee on Tuesday when parliament resumes. Then, on Wednesday, the committee will report back to both houses of parliament and "we vote him out," he said.

Mangwana added that the ruling party needs the backing of the MDC opposition to have enough votes but "they are supporting us."

The decision to pursue impeachment came after Mugabe ignored a deadline for his resignation set for midday Monday.

Mugabe also called a cabinet meeting Tuesday at his State House offices — the first such gathering since the military took power on Wednesday.

Talks with rival underway

Zimbabwe's army said separately that Mugabe had begun talks with his arch-rival, former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled to South Africa earlier this month due to safety fears. 

Army chief Constantino Chiwenger said progress had been made towards an apparent deal over Mugabe's exit, and that Mnangagwa was due back into the country shortly. He didn't confirm whether the businessman would be Mugabe's successor.

"Thereafter the nation will be advised of the outcome of talks between the two," Chiwenga hinted to reporters.

Mnangagwa is the military's choice to succeed Mugabe, despite being fired in a power struggle with the longtime leader's wife, Grace.

Mugabe hangs on to power despite being  dismissed as ZANU-PF party leader on Sunday morning, a move which many expected would lead to a dignified resignation in an address to the nation on Sunday evening.

Flanked by the country's top brass, his speech left Zimbabweans shocked after he remained defiant in clinging to the presidency.

Address to the nation

Some have speculated that the 93-year-old read the wrong speech, or left out crucial passages about stepping down. There have also been claims that the ruling ZANU-PF party did not want him to step down in front of the military, which would have made the intervention look like a coup.

"It would have looked extremely bad if he had resigned in front of those generals. It would have created a huge amount of mess," one senior source within ZANU-PF told Reuters.

President Mugabe seated behind a table during his address to the nation

Robert Mugabe was flanked by the military during his address to the nation

The ZANU-PF party also tweeted their expectation that Mugabe would resign by midday.

With the deadline having come and gone, opposition activists and the influential war veterans association have announced that more demonstrations will take place, calling on Zimbabweans to take to the streets. 

"Your time is up," said war veterans' leader Chris Mutsvangwa. "Save the country further turmoil. If not, we are bringing the people of Zimbabwe back to the streets," he said Monday. "This time there will be a sit-in. We are not going to be leaving Harare until this guy is gone. He's lost his marbles."

The war veterans' association has announced it will go to court to argue that Mugabe is "derelict of his executive duty," Mutsvangwa said.

International reactions

A spokesman for British Prime Minster Theresa May said on Monday that Mugabe has clearly lost the support of the people.  

"We don't yet know how developments in Zimbabwe are going to play out but what does appear clear is that Mugabe has lost the support of the people and of his party," he said, while calling for a quick and peaceful end to Zimbabwe’s political uncertainty.

Meanwhile, former Zambian president, Kenneth Kaunda, who is also 93, has arrived in Zimbabwe. "Dr Kaunda used the presidential jet and has already arrived in Harare," a senior Zambian government official told Reuters.

He has been sent by Zambian President Edgar Lungu to try to persuade President Mugabe to make a "dignified exit."

mm, cl/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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