Ruling party tells Mugabe to resign

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party called on Friday for President Robert Mugabe to resign, the main state newspaper The Herald reported, the latest sign that the aging leader’s authority has collapsed after an army takeover.

The newspaper said ZANU-PF branches in all 10 provinces had met on Friday and had also called for Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace, whose ambitions to succeed her husband triggered the unfolding political crisis, to resign from the party.

Mr Mugabe appeared in public on Friday for the first time since the army took charge, as the ruling party made plans to force him to step down after almost four decades in power.

The president, who is 93, opened a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare. He wore blue and yellow academic robes and a mortar board hat and appeared to fall asleep in his chair as his eyes closed and his head lolled.

Mr Mugabe led the country’s liberation struggle and has dominated its politics since independence in 1980.

A senior member of the ZANU-PF ruling party said it wanted him gone.

“If he becomes stubborn, we will arrange for him to be fired on Sunday,” the source said.

“When that is done, it’s impeachment on Tuesday.”

The Herald reported that ZANU-PF would convene a special Central Committee meeting on Sunday to “realign the revolutionary party with current political developments”.

The military, which seized power on Wednesday, has so far treated Mr Mugabe carefully. It said in a statement on national television it was “engaging” with Mr Mugabe, referred to him as commander in chief and said it would announce an outcome as soon as possible.

ZANU-PF has also called for a mass meeting in the capital on Saturday to show its support for the War Veterans group in their bid to remove Mr Mugabe.

The veterans, Mr Mugabe’s former comrades from the liberation war, who enjoyed a privileged position under his rule for decades, had chafed in recent years as his wife Grace positioned herself to succeed him.

They finally turned on him decisively after he sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

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