Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe appears to be resisting efforts to force him to stand aside, two days after a remarkable military takeover of the country’s government.
A statement from the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) released early Friday said that military leaders were “currently engaging” with President Robert Mugabe and would advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible.
The statement, which was read on state television, said the ZDF had made “significant progress” in its operation to apprehend “criminals” around Mugabe, the justification it used for its overnight military takeover Wednesday.
Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, is still — nominally, at least — head of state. He appeared in photos published in local media Thursday, speaking with army leader Commander General Constantino Chiwenga at Zimbabwe’s State House.
It was the first time the 93-year-old leader had been seen since the military took control of key institutions, and placed the aging leader under house arrest. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe, however, has not been seen since the apparent coup.
Political maneuvering by the couple to position Grace as Mugabe’s heir apparent is at the heart of the political tumult in the southern African country. Last week Mugabe dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former ally, prompting Mnangagwa’s military allies to act.