Thousands of people have taken to the streets in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, celebrating the possibility of President Robert Mugabe’s resignation.
Local reporters describe scenes of protesters hugging soldiers and cheering about a “dawn of a new era” for the country. Both the military and ruling Zanu-PF party have come out in support of the rally, with calls for the president’s resignation coming from all parties.
On Friday, state newspaper The Herald reported:
“ZANU-PF provincial structures in all the country’s 10 provinces met today and called for the resignation of their First Secretary, President Robert Mugabe. They also called for the resignation of women’s league Secretary and First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe from the party.”
Earlier this week, Zimbabwe’s military staged a ‘peaceful intervention’ in response to Mugabe’s dismissal of vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, which had cleared the path for his wife, Grace, to be next in line for the presidency.
Military leaders put Mugabe under house arrest, but were clear that they did not intend the 93-year-old leader any harm. However, an army spokesman said they did intend to target those close to the president who had inflicted “social and economic hardship” on the population in recent years.
Mugabe made his first public appearance on Friday when he spoke to open the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University, of which he is chancellor. After his speech he was escorted back to his residence, where he is being held.