LATEST: Zimbabwe ruling party pursues urgent meeting

2017-11-18 07:15
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)

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Harare - Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper says all 10 of the ruling party's provincial branches are calling for President Robert Mugabe and his wife to resign, and they seek a special Central Committee meeting within two days.

The report late on Friday also says the party branches seek the reinstatement of former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose firing last week led the military to step in and put Mugabe under house arrest.

As calls for Mugabe's departure grow, the ruling party appears to be positioning Mnangagwa to represent it in next year's elections.

Fears that the unpopular first lady would replace Mnangagwa and eventually succeed her husband were a factor in the military's move.

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21:00 

The wife of Zimbabwe's army commander who put President Robert Mugabe under house arrest was among the graduates at the ceremony Mugabe attended in his first public appearance.

The state-run broadcaster made a point of mentioning Mary Chiwenga's graduation in its nightly broadcast.

Zimbabweans are seizing on the political limbo to express themselves in previously unthinkable ways. Even state-run media has opened up a bit since Mugabe was put in custody earlier this week.

Talks continue on the departure of the president, who angered the military by firing his longtime deputy and appeared to position unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to take his place.

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20:45 

Zimbabweans are watching a nightly newscast they never imagined to see on a state-run broadcaster that for decades led with President Robert Mugabe's birthday and other achievements.

Most of the broadcast showed ruling party members describing Mugabe as too old to rule and urging him to step aside, even as some expressed respect for him.

In an example of the newly fluid loyalties, one party member from Mugabe's province, who last week appeared on TV criticising the newly fired Vvce president Emmerson Mnangagwa, was now shown supporting the military's move this week to put Mugabe under house arrest.

Mugabe's first public appearance since house arrest made a short mention near the end of the broadcast.

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20:35 

Zimbabwe's military says in a new statement it supports a rally called for Saturday in the capital that will urge President Robert Mugabe to step aside.

The statement read out on state-run television also says the military's operation "remains solid" and Zimbabweans are urged to remain patient.

The military is pursuing talks with Mugabe on the "way forward" while arresting some top allies of him and his wife.

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20:05 

Zimbabwe's state-run broadcaster is reporting that the ruling party is seeking the departure of President Robert Mugabe, under the previously unthinkable headline "Zanu-PF calls on Pres Mugabe to resign."

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation report at the top of the nightly news comes as Zimbabweans are using the political limbo to express themselves.

Opposition members and others have called for a rally on Saturday in the capital, Harare, to urge Mugabe to go. They say the rally has the backing of the military, which stepped in this week amid alarm that Mugabe was positioning his wife to succeed him.

The ZBC television report includes party members speaking out against the president.

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19:00 

A UK-based official with Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party says all 10 of the party's provincial branches are calling for the removal of President Robert Mugabe.

Nick Mangwana says on Twitter that the branches have agreed to direct the party's Central Committee to recall Mugabe as party leader. Recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa would assume the acting leadership until the party's congress next month.

Whoever leads the party would run for president of Zimbabwe in next year's elections.

It is not clear when the ruling party's Central Committee would meet.

The privately owned Zimbabwean newspaper Newsday is reporting that all 10 of Zanu-PF's provincial branches have passed votes of no confidence in Mugabe as leader.

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18:05 

A poster circulating in Zimbabwe's capital is calling on citizens to rally on Saturday to "remove Mugabe from power".

Calls for the solidarity march to the State House say both the military and the opposition are supporting it.

"We can't have a 93-year-old person ruling more than 15 million people," the poster says.

Those encouraging participation in Saturday's rally include pastor Evan Mawarire, whose #ThisFlag social media campaign last year led to the largest anti-government protests in a decade.

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17:45 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for a return to civilian rule in Zimbabwe and says the country has a chance to put itself on a "new path" amid signs longtime authoritarian President Robert Mugabe will be forced from power after 37 years in a bloodless coup.

Speaking at a meeting of African foreign ministers at the State Department on Friday, Tillerson said that whoever replaces Mugabe at the helm must respect democracy and human rights. He said the choice of leadership is solely the choice of the Zimbabwean people.

His comments came as the 93-year-old Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest this week. The military has announced "significant progress" on talks for his departure and arrested some of his allies.

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17:35 

China's government says it hopes Zimbabwe's political situation can be resolved "under the legal framework."

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters that China would be "glad to see an early restoration of national stability and social order in Zimbabwe."

Geng did not say what role China is playing in Zimbabwe's situation. Longtime President Robert Mugabe is under house arrest after the military moved in, and negotiations continue on his departure.

Questions have been raised about China's role because Zimbabwe's army commander visited the country last week. On Monday, he threatened to "step in" to calm Zimbabwe's tensions over Mugabe's firing of his longtime deputy.

China has called the visit by General Constantino Chiwenga a "normal military exchange."

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16:20 

High-level supporters of the Zimbabwe vice president whose firing led the military to step in say reports of Emmerson Mnangagwa's return to the country are false.

The supporters say Mnangagwa, who is expected to lead any new government, will return to Zimbabwe only after processes to remove President Robert Mugabe are complete. They say he doesn't want his presence to be destabilising.

They hope a rally on Saturday in the capital, Harare, in support of the military's move will increase pressure on Mugabe to step aside.

They say that if that fails, the impeachment of Mugabe would be the next step when Parliament resumes on Tuesday.

The supporters spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media about the matter.


Read more on:    zanu-pf  |  grace mugabe  |  emmerson mnangagwa  |  robert ­mugabe  |  zimbabwe  |  southern africa

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