Mugabe to meet with army chief on his future

BBC | Published: 08:50, Nov 19,2017

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe

Protesters calling for Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe to step down take to the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 18, 2017. — Reuters photo

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe is to meet the army chief amid intense pressure for him to step down.

Mediation will be led by a Catholic priest, state TV said. Mugabe has largely been confined to his house since the army took over on Wednesday.

The governing Zanu-PF party is also meeting to discuss whether to dismiss their founder and long-term leader.

The army intervened after Mugabe, 93, fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa's dismissal made Mugabe's wife Grace front runner to become next president. He is likely to be reinstated as vice-president when Zanu-PF convenes.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.

Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets on Saturday to celebrate the army's takeover and to urge Mugabe to quit.

They tore pictures of Mugabe and marched to his office and residence.

The military says it will advise the public on the outcome of talks ‘as soon as possible’.

Nine of 10 Zanu-PF party chapters say Mugabe should step down and their decision is likely to be endorsed at Sunday's meeting of the party's top body, the central committee.

The BBC's Andrew Harding in Harare says this is a watershed moment and there can be no return to power for Mugabe.

Our correspondent says the situation appears to be getting out of Zanu-PF's control and there could be a broad push to introduce a transitional government that includes the opposition.

Soldiers seized the headquarters of Zimbabwe's national broadcaster ZBC on Wednesday.

An army official, Major-General Sibusiso Moyo, then read out a statement on national television, assuring the nation that president Mugabe and his family were safe.

The military was only targeting what he called ‘criminals’ around the president, he said, denying that there had been a coup.

On Friday, Mugabe made his first public appearance since being put under house arrest, speaking at a university.

Grace Mugabe was not present. It had been thought she had left the country but it emerged on Thursday that she was at home with Mugabe.

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