The Latest: Ruling party says Mugabe impeachment to go ahead

1 / 15
Disappointed Zimbabweans watch a televised address to the nation by President Robert Mugabe at a bar in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe's political turmoil (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

The chief whip of Zimbabwe's ruling party says "I don't see us failing to proceed with the impeachment" of President Robert Mugabe.

Told by the party's Central Committee to step down by midday Monday or face impeachment, Mugabe baffled the country Sunday night with an address on state-run television that did not announce his resignation.

Lovemore Matuke with the ruling ZANU-PF party tells The Associated Press: "The Central Committee decision stands until I am advised otherwise."

Matuke adds that "the speech was just surprising. It is not in line with what we expected. We had understood that his resignation was coming to avoid the embarrassment of impeachment. The army is taking its own route, and as politicians we are taking our own route, but the ultimate goal is to make sure he goes, which he should have done tonight."

___

10:55 p.m.

Zimbabwe's state-run broadcaster says President Robert Mugabe "has not resigned," confirming the baffled reactions of a nation that watched his mumbling address on TV.

Many Zimbabweans are outraged. "This dictator has absolutely no right to play ping pong with our people," former Zimbabwe finance minister and activist Tendai Biti says on Twitter.

"Mugabe's non resignation speech. Masterpiece or mayhem? It's either choreographed or completely out of control," says Piers Pigou, southern Africa expert for the International Crisis Group. He adds on Twitter: "It beggars belief the generals did not know what was in Mugabe's speech. "

The army commander who put Mugabe under house arrest just days ago sat beside the president during his speech, at times helping him turn the pages.

Some Zimbabweans were in tears afterward, shocked that a man fired by his own ruling party as its leader and told to resign or face impeachment was showing defiance.

___

10:20 p.m.

Zimbabweans who gathered at a bar in the capital to celebrate longtime President Robert Mugabe's expected announcement of his resignation say they are frustrated.

One named Nyasha says: "I would be happy for him despite everything he has done to leave with dignity and just walk away. ... He is so stubborn."

The ruling party's Central Committee has told the world's oldest head of state to resign by noon Monday or face impeachment. His speech on national television was expected to announce he would step down.

Another Zimbabwean named Shengi says: "Mugabe is a dictator and he'll always be a dictator."

___

10:05 p.m.

Zimbabweans say they feel profoundly disappointed that longtime President Robert 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."

___

9:45 p.m.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has shocked the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation, but he notes 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," Mugabe says.

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

___

9:30 p.m.

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.

___

9:20 p.m.

The army commander who took Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe under house arrest just days ago is helping Mugabe to turn the pages of his speech as he addresses the nation on his resignation.

Zimbabweans accustomed to hours-long speeches by Mugabe are wondering how long this one will take.

The state-run broadcaster introduced Mugabe's speech by saying: "Sit back, relax and join us."

Ruling party leaders have told him to step aside by noon Monday or face impeachment. He says people cannot "ride roughshod over party rules and procedures."

___

9:10 p.m.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has begun speaking on state television on his resignation.

He has shaken the hands of the military leaders who put him under house arrest just days ago. He says he is aware of a "whole range of concerns," including the economy, which is going through "a difficult patch."

Mugabe is poised to step down after 37 years in power. He is the world's oldest head of state.

He says "the pillars of state remained functional" amid the crisis, in which Zimbabweans rallied by the tens of thousands against him and ruling party leaders told him to step aside or face impeachment.

___

8:55 p.m.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper says President Robert Mugabe has gone into a closed-door meeting with the military generals who put him under house arrest days ago.

It's been two hours since the state broadcaster said Mugabe was expected to address the country on live TV. An official close to the talks on Mugabe's departure says the president is resigning after 37 years in power.

Zimbabweans have been stunned and then exhilarated by the downfall of the world's oldest head of state, who had vowed to rule until death. He has been increasingly isolated since the military stepped in, with tens of thousands demonstrating Saturday in the capital for his departure.

The ruling party's Central Committee on Sunday told Mugabe to resign as president by noon Monday or face impeachment.

___

8 p.m.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is resigning after nearly four decades in power, according to an official close to the talks on his departure.

The news comes hours after the ruling party's Central Committee fired Mugabe as party leader and said if he didn't resign as the country's president by noon Monday it would start impeachment proceedings.

Mugabe will address the nation shortly on state-run television. The official close to the talks spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

It is an extraordinary end to 37 years in power for the world's oldest head of state, who had vowed to rule until death.

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 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.

— Farai Mutsaka in Harare.

___

6:50 p.m.

Zimbabwe's state-run broadcaster says longtime President Robert Mugabe will address the nation shortly amid pressure to resign after nearly four decades in power.

The announcement comes hours after the ruling party's Central Committee fired Mugabe as party leader and said if he didn't resign as the country's president by noon Monday it would start impeachment proceedings.

___

4:40 p.m.

Zimbabwe's state-run Herald newspaper has tweeted photos of longtime President Robert Mugabe meeting for a second time with the army commander who put him under house arrest days ago.

Mugabe is said to be seeking more time as talks continue on his departure after nearly four decades in power. But the ruling party is impatient to see him leave, saying Mugabe must resign as president by noon Monday or face impeachment proceedings.

The military has been trying to give the departure a veneer of legality to avoid accusations of a coup.

The Herald report gives no details on the meeting's outcome.

___

3:50 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee has expelled several high-level members close to unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe, while President Robert Mugabe is told to resign as the country's leader by noon Monday or face impeachment.

Those expelled include minister of higher education Jonathan Moyo, finance minister Ignatious Chombo, Mugabe's nephew Patrick Zhuwao, local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, foreign affairs minister Walter Mzembi and several other top members of the ZANU-PF party who were associated with the first lady.

Some 200 delegates clapped and cheered the announcement and sent up an especially loud roar on hearing the action against Grace Mugabe.

They also chanted of the president: "He must go!"

___

3:25 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee says recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa should be its nominee to take over as the country's president.

The party has fired longtime President Robert Mugabe as its party chief and said if he doesn't step down as president by midday Monday they will begin impeachment proceedings when Parliament resumes Tuesday.

The decisions follow a dramatic few days in which the military put Mugabe under house arrest, angered by his firing of Mnangagwa and positioning of the unpopular first lady to replace him — and likely 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 is removed as head of the women's league.

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

___

3:15 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee says longtime President Robert Mugabe must resign as president by noon Monday or impeachment proceedings will start.

The ZANU-PF party has fired Mugabe as party chief, expelled his wife and named the recently dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the party chief.

Parliament resumes Tuesday and impeachment proceedings would begin then.

___

2:45 p.m.

A Zimbabwe ruling party official confirms that the Central Committee has fired President Robert Mugabe as party leader and replaced him with the recently dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The emergency meeting also has recalled first lady Grace Mugabe as head of the women's league "forever." The meeting continues.

Mugabe on Sunday is meeting with the army commander who put him under house arrest in a second round of negotiations on his departure as president after nearly four decades.

___

2:05 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee has begun recalling President Robert Mugabe as party leader and replacing him with recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The emergency meeting is also recalling first lady Grace Mugabe as head of the women's league "forever." The motion is yet to be formalized but will be complete shortly.

___

1:20 p.m.

A Zimbabwean ruling party Central Committee member says there could be prosecutions of members of a party faction close to the wife of President Robert Mugabe.

Emmanuel Fundira also says he thinks it is a "fait accompli" that recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be reinstated and chosen to lead Zimbabwe after Mugabe's expected resignation.

The Central Committee has opened an emergency meeting to recall Mugabe as party leader.

Fundira says "corrupt and rotten" leaders in the ruling party should be punished.

"There are some resources which have been taken away from this country," Fundira says. "Naturally, the laws will follow up and make sure that all those people are brought to book."

___

12:40 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee members have stood and cheered as the official chairing the emergency meeting announces plans to remove longtime President Robert Mugabe from his leadership post.

Obert Mpofu says they are meeting with "a heavy heart" because Mugabe had served the country and contributed "many memorable achievements."

But Mpofu says in his opening remarks that Mugabe's wife "and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition" to loot national resources. The party is meeting to discuss demands to recall Mugabe as party leader and reinstate recently fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The 93-year-old Mugabe is meeting Sunday with the army commander who put him under house arrest days ago in a second round of talks on his departure after nearly four decades in power.

___

12 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party Central Committee has begun meeting on demands to recall President Robert Mugabe as party leader.

The ZANU-PF emergency meeting is also discussing the call to reinstate former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose firing by Mugabe earlier this month led the military to step in and put the president under house arrest.

The ruling party also will consider recalling unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe as head of the women's league. She had been poised to replace Mnangagwa as vice president at a party congress next month and even succeed her husband.

Mugabe was set to meet Sunday with the army commander in a second round of negotiations on his exit from power after nearly four decades.

___

11:50 a.m.

An influential figure in Zimbabwe's ruling party says he is concerned about possible violence if President Robert Mugabe does not resign immediately.

Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the liberation war veterans, says he is concerned that the military could end up opening fire to protect Mugabe from protesters. He says there will be more demonstrations like the massive one Saturday if Mugabe's negotiations with the military on his departure from power don't end soon.

He hopes Mugabe "gives into the fact that he has got to tender his resignation and leave." Mugabe was set to meet Sunday with the army commander who put him under house arrest in a second round of talks.

"We would expect that Mugabe would not have the prospect of the military shooting at people, trying to defend him," Mutsvangwa says. "The choice is his."

The ruling party is meeting on demands to recall Mugabe as party leader, while lawmakers to impeach him when Parliament resumes Tuesday.

___

10:35 a.m.

The youth league of Zimbabwe's ruling party says President Robert Mugabe should resign and take a rest as an "elder statesman," while his wife, Grace, should be expelled from the party "forever."

The ZANU-PF ruling party is holding an emergency meeting to discuss demands to recall Mugabe as party leader.

Youth league leader Yeukai Simbanegavi praises the military for moving against what she describes as a group of "criminals" led by Grace Mugabe.

"It is unfortunate that the president allowed her to usurp executive authority from him, thereby destroying both the party and the government," Simbanegavi says at ruling party headquarters.

She says the youth league also wants the reinstatement of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former vice president whose firing by Mugabe followed harsh criticism by Zimbabwe's first lady.

___

9:50 a.m.

Senior figures in Zimbabwe's ruling party are gathering ahead of an emergency meeting to discuss calls to expel longtime President Robert Mugabe as party leader.

A ZANU-PF party committee is meeting at headquarters in the capital, Harare. Soldiers are checking vehicles at the gate and a military vehicle is parked inside the grounds. The military has Mugabe under house arrest after moving in last week, angered by Mugabe's firing of his longtime deputy.

At the edge of the party's compound, a ruling party banner that showed Mugabe's face has been partly torn down, possibly by demonstrators who surged through Harare on Saturday to demand that the president resign.

___

9:10 a.m.

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

Innocent Gonese with the MDC-T party tells The Associated Press: "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 Mugabe in the past, but now the ruling party has turned against him.

The ruling party on Sunday is likely to fire Mugabe as party leader at a Central Committee meeting. State-run media also says Mugabe will meet the army commander who put him under house arrest for another round of talks.

___

8:45 a.m.

Clinging to his now-powerless post, longtime Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is set to discuss his expected exit with the army commander who put him under house arrest.

And a day after huge crowds rallied in the capital for Mugabe to go, the ruling party's Central Committee is expected to meet Sunday on demands by provincial branches to recall Mugabe as party leader.

The meeting also is expected to reinstate the vice president whose firing nearly two weeks ago led the military to step in.

Mugabe's talks with army commander Constantino Chiwenga are the second round of negotiations on an exit with a veneer of dignity as the military tries to avoid accusations of a coup.

This time, the talks do not appear to include a South African government delegation.

___

This version corrects that Fundira is a Central Committee member but not a lawmaker.