Robert Mugabe baffles Zimbabwe by addressing nation without resigning
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 Monday 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.
The 93-year-old Mugabe has been under house arrest since the military moved in Tuesday, angered by his firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed him.
Mugabe tried to buy time in negotiations with the military on a dignified exit but quickly found himself isolated.
Tens of thousands of people poured into the streets of the capital Saturday to demand that Mugabe, one of Africa's last remaining liberation leaders, step aside after overseeing the once-prosperous country's economic collapse.
The deputy that Mugabe fired, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is poised to be Zimbabwe's next leader after the Central Committee made him its nominee to take over when Mugabe goes.
After holding an emergency meeting Sunday, Zimbabwe's ruling party central committee had said that Mugabe must resign as president by noon Monday or impeachment proceedings will start. Parliament was set to resume on Tuesday in order to begin impeachment proceedings.
A party source said the president's wife, Grace Mugabe, has been expelled from the party. Grace became head of the ZANU-PF Women's League in 2014, giving her a seat at the party's top table.
Grace Mugabe, 52, was reported to have been placed under house arrest in the capital, Harare, last Wednesday, along with her husband..
Without the military's intervention last week, many observers say she likely would have replaced Mnangagwa as vice president and been in a position to succeed her husband.
Innocent Gonese with the MDC-T party said they had been in discussions with the ruling ZANU-PF party to act jointly.
"If Mugabe is not gone by Tuesday, then as sure as the sun rises from the east, impeachment process will kick in," Gonese said.
As the pressure for Mugabe to step down continued Sunday, he held talks with army commander Constantino Chiwenga. They were the second round of negotiations on an exit as the military tries to avoid accusations of staging a coup.
Zimbabwean officials have not revealed details of the talks, but the military was said to be favouring a voluntary resignation by Mugabe to maintain a veneer of legality in the political transition.
Mugabe, in turn, could use whatever leverage he has left to try to preserve his legacy as one of Africa's liberation leaders or even protect himself and his family from possible prosecution.
Earlier Sunday, Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the country's liberation war veterans, said he was concerned that the military could end up opening fire to protect Mugabe from protesters. He vowed to "bring back the crowd" if the president didn't step aside.
"We would expect that Mugabe would not have the prospect of the military shooting at people, trying to defend him," Mutsvangwa said. "The choice is his."