Latest: Robert Mugabe baffles Zimbabwe as live TV address ends without resignation

Update 7.45pm: 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 had hours earlier told him to resign as president by noon on 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.

He 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," he said.

Mugabe noted the political turmoil that led to his military house arrest and expulsion as ruling party leader.

"From tonight ... the nation at all levels gets refocused," he said.

He said that "failures of the past" may have triggered anger in some quarters, which he calls "quite understandable".

He also notes that "intergenerational conflict must be resolved", a reference to his apparent positioning of his unpopular 52-year-old wife to succeed him.

"I thank you and good night," he concluded.

Mugabe is 93 and had been backed by fellow veterans of the country's liberation war, until they turned against him.

Officials close to the talks between Mugabe and the military had said the president would resign.

Earlier, members of the Zanu-PF party's Central Committee stood, cheered and sang as Mugabe was recalled.

Update 7.29pm: Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has not announced his resignation as was widely expected this evening.

In a bizarre, rambling speech, surrounded by military generals, the 93-year-old said: "We must learn to forgive".

He also said: "We cannot be guided by bitterness."

The Central Committee of Zanu-PF, Zimbabwe's ruling party, are set to proceed with impeachment proceedings on Tuesday.

It has already fired Mugabe as party chief, expelled his wife and named the recently dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new head.

More as we get it.

Update 6.32pm: Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe is resigning after nearly four decades in power, an official close to talks on his departure has said.

It is an extraordinary end for the world's oldest head of state, who had vowed to rule until death.

The news came hours after the ruling party's Central Committee fired Mugabe as party leader and said if he did not resign as president by noon on Monday it would start impeachment proceedings.

Mugabe is set to address the nation shortly on state-run television.

The 93-year-old has been under house arrest since the military moved in on Tuesday, angered by him firing his long-term deputy and positioning 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 on 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 whom 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.

Clinging to his virtually powerless post, Mugabe earlier discussed his exit with the army commander who put him under house arrest days ago, in a second round of negotiations.

Meanwhile, members of the Zanu-PF party's Central Committee stood, cheered and sang as Mugabe was recalled.

Updaye 2.13pm:Robert Mugabe must resign as president by noon on Monday or impeachment proceedings will start, Zimbabwe's ruling party has said.

The Central Committee of Zanu-PF has fired Mugabe as party chief, expelled his wife and named the recently dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as its new head.

Parliament resumes on Tuesday and impeachment proceedings would begin then.

The Central Committee said Mr Mnangagwa should be its nominee to take over as president.

The decisions follow a dramatic few days in which the military put Mugabe under house arrest, angered by his firing of Mr Mnangagwa and positioning of the unpopular first lady to replace him - and probably succeed her husband as leader.

The party accuses Grace Mugabe of "preaching hate, divisiveness and assuming roles and powers not delegated to the office". She was removed as head of the women's league.

The party's decisions on Sunday will be formalised at a special congress next month.

Update 12.06pm: Zimbabwe's ruling party is sacking President Robert Mugabe as party leader and replacing him with recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The emergency meeting of the Zanu-PF party is also removing first lady Grace Mugabe as head of the women's league.

Senior figures in Zimbabwe's ruling party stood and cheered as an official chairing the emergency meeting announced plans to remove Mugabe.

Obert Mpofu said Zanu-PF's Central Committee members were meeting with "a heavy heart" because Mugabe had served the country and contributed to "many memorable achievements".

But Mr Mpofu said in his opening remarks that Mugabe's wife "and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition" to loot national resources.

Earlier: Zimbabwe's parliament will "definitely" put in motion a process to impeach President Robert Mugabe, the main opposition's parliamentary chief whip said, adding that they have been in discussions with the ruling ZANU-PF party to act jointly.

Innocent Gonese, of the MDC-T party, said: "If Mugabe is not gone by Tuesday, then as sure as the sun rises from the east, impeachment process will kick in."

The MDC-T has unsuccessfully tried to impeach Mr Mugabe in the past but now the ruling party has turned against him.

Today, Mr Mugabe is to meet with the military commanders who put him under house arrest as their talks continue on the longtime leader's expected departure.

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators rallied in Zimbabwe's capital to call for the 93-year-old to quit immediately after nearly four decades in power.

People in Harare clambered on to tanks and other military vehicles moving slowly through the crowds, danced around soldiers walking in city streets and surged in their thousands towards State House, Mr Mugabe's official residence.

"The common enemy is Robert Mugabe. That's for starters," said 37-year-old Talent Mudzamiri, an opposition supporter who was born soon after Zimbabwe's independence.

He had a warning for whoever takes over Zimbabwe: "If the next leader does the same, we are going to come out again."

Many Zimbabweans believe the most likely candidate will be a former vice president with close military ties whose dismissal by Mr Mugabe triggered the intervention of the armed forces, which sent troops and tanks into the streets this week, effectively taking over the country.

The increasing presidential ambitions of Mr Mugabe's wife Grace, a polarising figure who denounced Mr Mnangagwa amid a factional battle within the ruling ZANU-PF party, alarmed those who feared a dynastic succession.

At the Harare rallies, signs denounced "Gucci Grace", a reference to the first lady's record of high-end shopping expeditions outside Zimbabwe, which suffered hyperinflation in the past and is currently struggling with a cash shortage and massive unemployment.

The discussions over Mr Mugabe's fate come ahead of a key ruling party congress next month, as well as scheduled elections next year.

The president, who is believed to be staying at his private home in Harare, a well-guarded compound known as the Blue Roof, is reported to have asked for more time in office.

He has been deserted by most of his allies, with others arrested. The ruling party has turned on him, asking for a Central Committee meeting this weekend to recall both him and his wife, who heads the women's league of the party. Impeachment is also a possibility when Parliament resumes on Tuesday.

Even as concerns remained about who next would be in charge and what freedoms might be available if the military lingers in power - or if Mr Mugabe's recently fired deputy leads a new government - people revelled on Saturday in the rare chance to express themselves freely.

Some marchers had posters with an image of the military commander who swept in to take control, with the slogan: "Go, go, our general!!!" Demonstrators handed flags to soldiers, who accepted and waved.

"It's like Christmas," said one marcher, Fred Mubay, who said Zimbabweans have been suffering for a long time.

Veterans of the long war against white minority rule, once close allies of Mr Mugabe, took part in the demonstration, along with opposition activists who long have faced police crackdowns by the Mugabe government. Thousands gathered for speeches at the Zimbabwe Grounds, where Zimbabweans assembled to cheer Mr Mugabe's return from exile in 1980 after the liberation war.


 

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