Zimbabwe's President Refuses To Resign

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe remains in power despite his party's ultimatum to either step down or be impeached.

Mugabe, the 93-year-old leader and co-founder of the ruling Zanu-PF Party, is generally unfavored by his country's citizens and is believed to have engaged in criminal behavior that has inhibited economic prosperity.

Tensions escalated on Nov. 6 when he fired his vice president and successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, opening up the possibility of his controversial wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe, taking power, The Guardian reports. The military staged a non-violent coup one week after Mnangagwa's termination.

Maj. Gen SB Moyo said the point of the coup was to target the "criminals around" Mugabe who were "committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in order to bring them to justice."

The military blocked access to government buildings in the capital and the president's own residence; however, Moyo insisted on Nov. 15 Mugabe and his family were safe and their security was not under threat.

On Nov. 19, Mugabe's party abandoned their leader of 37 years, giving him a choice to either remove himself from office by noon on Nov. 20 or face impeachment. He was expected to announce his resignation in a speech scheduled for that evening.

Instead of resigning, Mugabe delivered a rambling address in which he dismissed the coup as a manifestation of "a deep patriotic concern for the stability of the nation" and said that it "did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order."

"I am aware that many developments have occurred in the party, given the failings of the past, and anger they might have triggered in some quarters..." Mugabe said in his 30-minute speech, "...[but] I am confident that from tonight our whole nation will put shoulder to the wheel."

Mugabe said he would preside over the Zanu-PF Congress in December, making it clear he has no plans to resign, CNN reports. He was flanked by military members during the speech and appeared flustered at several moments.

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"It was a long speech," he apologized at the end.

Impeachment is a long process, but Zimbabweans might be able to hasten it, according to Reuters.

"It can be done in a matter of a day," said John Makamure, the executive director of the Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust.

Ousted Vice President Mnangagwa would take the place of Mugabe as leader of the Zanu-PF.

"The nation will be advised on the outcome of talks between the two," said military Gen. Constantino Chiwenga.

If successfully impeached, other African nations might take similar action against contested leaders, such as Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni or the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila.

Source: The Guardian (2), CNN, Reuters / Featured Image: Al Jazeera English/Flickr / Embedded Images: Jesse B. Awalt/U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons, DandjkRoberts/Wikimedia Commons

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