UPDATE: Mugabe to challenge ruling party, refuses to resign amid turmoil
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation.
The ruling party’s Central Committee just hours earlier told him to resign as president by noon tomorrow or face impeachment proceedings the following day.
Zimbabweans gathered in expectation of a celebration. Instead, Mugabe appeared to hint at challenging the ruling party, which has expelled him as its leader, by trying to stay on.
Mugabe made a reference to presiding over a party congress next month. “The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be possessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public.”
Officials close to the talks between Mugabe and the military had said Mugabe was resigning.
Zimbabweans say they feel profoundly disappointed that Mugabe is resisting pressure to step aside.
Victor Matemadanda, secretary general of the country’s war veterans association, tells The Associated Press he feels betrayed.
Matemadanda says: “He is playing games with the people of Zimbabwe. He agrees to go and then plays games with us like that at the last minute.”
Mugabe’s address to the nation said he would preside over the ruling party’s congress next month, even though its Central Committee has recalled him as its leader and told him to resign as president by midday Monday or face impeachment.
Matemadanda says the war veterans will again rally the people to protest, and “this time the army will let him face the people. ... The army will now choose between shooting the people or protecting Mugabe.”