Against all odds, the embattled Robert Mugabe remains head of state in Zimbabwe after he refused to resign as president.
The news means widespread disappointment for those who thought they were witnessing the end of the Mugabe era and celebrated in euphoric scenes in the streets of Zimbabwe yesterday.
Mugabe, the self-styled ‘Grand Old Man’ of African politics, was expected to stand down in a historic address live on television after conceding to military takeover.
Zanu-PF earlier sacked him as party leader, and gave him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached.
But instead, he clings to power following a rambling speech which left the nation stunned and baffled.
In a statement delivered in Harare he claimed military intervention, which saw him placed under house arrest four days ago, was no challenge to his authority.
Also flanked by military generals, he said “the [ruling Zanu-PF] party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes”.
President Mugabe acknowledged criticism from Zanu-PF, the military and public, and stressed the need to return Zimbabwe to normality.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they [the army] went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns,” he said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster.
In his stumbling, 20-minute address, Robert Mugabe made no mention of the deafening calls, from the public and from his own party, to resign as president.
Instead, he declared that the military had done nothing wrong, by seizing power, and placing him under house arrest earlier in the week.
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