A defiant Robert Mugabe has not resigned as President of Zimbabwe, ending a televised speech to the nation in which he was widely expected to stand down without announcing his intention to go.

Zimbabweans who were expecting to celebrate the announcement were left disappointed.

Instead, the 93-year-old said he would preside over the ruling ZANU-PF party conference in December, despite the party voting to sack him just hours earlier and giving him less that 24 hours to resign or face impeachment.

That gives him until noon on Monday.

In his rambling televised address, Mr Mugabe acknowledged the political turmoil his country has seen in recent days, saying “from tonight [Sunday]… the nation at all levels gets refocused”.

But he frequently lost his place and was handed pages of his script by the army commander who put him under house arrest earlier in the week.

Seated at a table in State House, Mr Mugabe said that “failures of the past” may have triggered anger “in some quarters, which he called “quite understandable”.

Yet he still sought to project authority in his speech.

In the capital Harare, in a bar where a number of Zimbabweans had gathered to celebrate Mugabe’s expected departure, there was a sense of frustration with the country’s long-time leader.

One onlooker named Nyasha said: “I would be happy for him despite everything he has done to leave with dignity and just walk away … He is so stubborn.”

In the wake of Mr Mugabe’s speech, the Associated Press reported ZANU-PF’s chief whip, Lovemore Matuke, as confirming the threatened impeachment of Mr Mugabe would go ahead.

“I don’t see us failing to proceed with the impeachment,” he was quoted as saying.

Mr Mugabe has come under increasing calls to resign in a dramatic few days that saw the military put him under house arrest.

That came in response to Mugabe’s decision to fire vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the positioning of the unpopular first lady, Grace Mugabe, to replace him and probably succeed her husband as leader.

After sacking Mr Mugabe as their leader, the Central Committee of ZANU-PF named Mr Mnangagwa as their head.

ZANU-PF has also accused Mrs Mugabe of “preaching hate, divisiveness and assuming roles and powers not delegated to the office”. She was removed as head of the women’s league.

On Sunday, Mr Mugabe met with General Constantino Chiwenga, the army head who led the military intervention against him, to discuss details of his departure in a second round of talks between the pair.

Details of the discussions were not released, but the military appears to favour a voluntary resignation in order to avoid accusations of a coup and maintain a veneer of legality in the proceedings.

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

On Saturday, most of Harare’s population of 1.6 million poured into the streets in an anti-Mugabe demonstration that just days ago would have brought a police crackdown.



World News


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