Crunch talks as Zimbabwean army generals thrash out his exit

Vastavam web:Zimbabwean army generals will pile further pressure on President Robert Mugabe to resign today after tens of thousands of overjoyed protesters celebrated the apparent end of his 37-year regime.Mugabe’s hold on power was broken this week when the military took over in a dispute over who would succeed the 93 -year-old president, the world’s oldest head of state.The two sides first met for talks on Thursday, smiling in photographs that attempted to present a dignified image of the tense process of negotiating Mugabe’s departure.

In scenes of public euphoria not seen since independence in 1980, huge crowds marched and sang their way through Harare and other cities yesterday, demanding the end of Mugabe’s authoritarian rule.The marches came after a historic week in which the military seized power and put Mugabe under house arrest in response to his sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a perceived rival of Mugabe’s powerful 52-year-old wife Grace who had increasingly voiced her ambition to succeed her spouse.A symbolic location, Highfield was where Mugabe gave his first speech after returning from exile ahead of independence in 1980.

In central Harare, a group of young men tore down a green metal street sign bearing Robert Mugabe’s name and smashed it repeatedly on the road.Such an open display of defiance would have been unthinkable just a week ago as dissent was routinely crushed by security forces.Major General Sibusiso Moyo, whose statement on state TV marked the completion of the take-over in the early hours of Wednesday, told reporters at the protests that the people of Zimbabwe are “disciplined, orderly and they are unified”.Sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to negotiate a delay to his exit and to ensure future protection for him and his family.

He attended a graduation ceremony on Friday, in a show of defiance over the talks with General Constantino Chiwenga, who led the military power grab.Nine of the 10 regional branches of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF have now called for him to go.The army seizure of power was the climax of a dispute over who would succeed the ailing leader.Before being pushed out as vice president, Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with Mugabe’s wife.