Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been pictured holding talks with the army and envoys from South Africa yet calls for the 93-year-old to step down are said to be falling on deaf ears.
Placed under house arrest after a military takeover, he was taken from his lavish compound in Harare on Thursday to his official residence for the mediation. Mugabe smiled in some of the photos, published in the Zimbabwe Herald.
Zimbabwe’s military said it was engaging him in talks on the way forward for the country and that it would advise the nation on the outcome as soon as possible.
The military added in a statement broadcast on Zimbabwean television that it had made “significant progress” in its operation targeting “criminals” around Mugabe.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai meanwhile has returned to Harare after cancer treatment abroad.
“In the interests of the people of Zimbabwe, Mr. Robert Mugabe must resign, step down immediately in line with the national sentiment and expectation, taking full regard of his legacy and contribution to Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai told a news conference.
Despite the drama, the capital has stayed calm, with people going about their business. For the man who has ruled them for 37 years however, many believe this is the end of the road.
Questions are increasingly being raised about what role China may have played in the events of the last few days.
The army may want Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, to go quietly and allow a smooth and bloodless transition to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice president Mugabe sacked last week, triggering the crisis.
The main goal of the generals is to prevent Mugabe from handing power to his wife, Grace, 41 years his junior, who has built a following among the ruling party’s youth wing and appeared on the cusp of power after Mnangagwa was pushed out.