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Zimbabwe’s ruling party sacks Robert Mugabe as leader

November 19, 2017

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has sacked Robert Mugabe as its leader, as pressure intensifies for him to step down as president.

Zanu-PF appointed ex-Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago, in his place.

The party has given Mr Mugabe, 93, until 10:00 GMT on Monday to resign as president, or face impeachment.

The military intervened last week, in an apparent attempt to block him from installing his wife as his successor.

The first lady, Grace Mugabe, and several other senior officials have been expelled from the party altogether.

Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests on Saturday, demonstrating against the Mugabes.

Mr Mugabe has also reportedly been meeting military leaders, according to Zimbabwe’s The Herald.

While no details of the talks have been released, photos posted by the newspaper show the two sides – which also met several days ago – shaking hands.

Cheering erupted when the decision to dismiss Mr Mugabe as party leader was announced.

One senior official later told the BBC’s Andrew Harding: “It’s the dawn of a new era. Mugabe can go farming.”

Zanu-PF’s Central Committee also warned that impeachment proceedings would begin on Tuesday if Mr Mugabe did not step down as president by noon local time on Monday.

One party official said Mr Mnangagwa, who has since reportedly returned to Zimbabwe, had been nominated as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.

President Mugabe and Grace Mugabe on 24 May 2014Image copyrightAFP
Image captionPresident Mugabe’s wife, Grace, had emerged as a leading candidate to succeed her husband
Zimbabwe Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa listens as President Robert Mugabe (not pictured) delivers his state of the nation address to the countryImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionBut Mr Mnangagwa has re-emerged as front runner after his dismissal two weeks ago

His sacking prompted an extraordinary chain of events over the past week:

  • Mr Mnangagwa fled the country after his dismissal as Mr Mugabe’s deputy two weeks ago
  • The army’s chief of staff, Gen Constantino Chiwenga, warned last Monday that the military might intervene to stop purges in the party – and was roundly criticised by allies of the Mugabes
  • On Wednesday, soldiers seized the headquarters of the national broadcaster
  • Mr Mugabe has been mostly under house arrest for several days
  • On Saturday, unprecedented mass protests further weakened Mr Mugabe’s position

Speaking ahead of the party meeting, the head of the influential War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, threatened to “bring back the crowds and they will do their business” if Mr Mugabe did not step down.

Mr Mugabe has been president of Zimbabwe for 37 years, having led the country since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

He has made just one public appearance since events unfolded, speaking at a university graduation ceremony on Friday.

*BBC

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