Zimbabwe’s ruling party was poised Sunday to expel Robert Mugabe as their leader, a day after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand an end to the President’s near four-decade rule.
Pressure is mounting on the 93-year-old leader, who is refusing to accept a deal with the military that would allow him to resign without the disgrace of being forced from office.
Mugabe’s allies are quickly turning against him, and now his own ZANU-PF party — which he co-founded to usher his country into independence — looks set to give him a vote of no confidence Sunday.
At the party’s headquarters in the capital, Harare, official Obert Mpofu opened the meeting, declaring that the meeting’s aim was to recall Mugabe, a statement that received a standing ovation and roars of support.
Mpofu, a former mining minister who once described himself as Mugabe’s most obedient son, said he and members had gathered with a “heavy heart” at the headquarters, a place still adorned with images of the veteran leader.
Removing Mugabe as party leader would not automatically dethrone him as Zimbabwe’s President, but it is an indication that if parliament held a vote on his future, they would have the numbers to impeach him.
Mugabe’s 37-year rule has been on the brink of collapse since the army seized power in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday and placed the leader under house arrest as they tried to negotiate his exit.
Zimbabwe was thrust into political chaos on November 6 when Mugabe fired his powerful vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in an attempt to anoint his wife, Grace Mugabe, as the country’s next leader.
Mugabe ‘willing to die’
Sources have told CNN that a deal would involve Mugabe stepping down to make way for an interim President, while Mnangagwa would likely be installed as the next ZANU-PF leader at a congress in December, paving the way for the presidency in next year’s election.
But after days of talks with military officials, with a Catholic priest as arbiter, Mugabe has refused to agree to a deal, an official told CNN. State media reports he will on Sunday again meet with military officials, who are growing increasingly impatient with the leader.
SOURCE: David McKenzie, Brent Swails and Angela Dewan