Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has agreed to direct talks with the former Vice President he recently fired, the country’s military chief said Monday.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has been out of the country since Mugabe ousted him earlier this month. His ouster triggered a political crisis amid repeated calls for Mugabe to step down.
Zimbabwe’s military has agreed with Mugabe on a “roadmap on the prevailing situation in the country,” Gen. Constantino Chiwenga told reporters. Mnangagwa will soon be returning to Zimbabwe to meet with the veteran leader.
“The nation will be advised on the outcome of talks between the two,” he said.
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, which he co-founded and led for nearly four decades, ousted the 93-year-old as party leader on Sunday and gave him an ultimatum – relinquish the presidency by midday on Monday or face an impeachment vote in Parliament. The party has said it will introduce that plan to Parliament on Tuesday.
Mugabe has refused to answer repeated calls to step down even after effectively being stripped of his powers.
A source told CNN that Mugabe had agreed to terms for his resignation in talks with military leaders who have seized control in the country, and that a letter had been drafted. But the midday deadline for his resignation passed Monday with no word from the defiant leader.
Mugabe loses allies: The embattled President has lost his most powerful associates, his party and control of the military, and tens of thousands of people have protested to call for his ouster.
Mugabe’s odd speech: The nation was stunned Sunday when instead of hearing Mugabe deliver his resignation speech, it looked on as he gave a rambling televised address that raised more questions than answers.
Deal or no deal?: A source told CNN earlier Monday that the military had given into demands from the President for full immunity for himself and his wife, but there is still no confirmation that Mugabe has accepted a deal.
Political upheaval grips Zimbabwe
Mugabe’s next move
If an impeachment vote goes to Parliament, it would almost certainly pass, as the ZANU-PF dominates the National Assembly. The main opposition Movement For Democratic Change plans to meet on Tuesday to decide on whether to support the motion, Reuters reported, citing a party official.
Mugabe is running out of cards to play and has few political allies left.
Tens of thousands of people have also protested in the streets for his ouster, a rare sight in a country where such gatherings and political expression have been banned. The voices supporting him have been far more muted, and world leaders are tacitly supporting the military’s actions.
Now cornered, he is likely looking to broker the the best deal for his exit.
According to the source who spoke to CNN, the military has given into Mugabe’s demands for full immunity for himself and his wife, and for him to keep several of his properties.
If Mugabe does decide to resign, he must send a letter to the speaker of Parliament, who should then publicly announce the resignation within 24 hours, according to the constitution.
If his rule ends, the speaker will have to serve as an interim leader. Usually it is the vice president’s role to step in, but the country has not had one since Mnangagwa was fired earlier this month.
Mugabe’s odd speech
Speculation over Mugabe’s next move has been rife since the President’s speech on Sunday, the most bizarre public moment since the military staged its apparent coup.
Not only did he defy expectations to stand down, he fumbled over the pages of his speech, which covered broad topics such as business and tech initiatives, and appeared to skip over entire sections.
According to the source who spoke to CNN, the aim of Sunday’s televised address was to ensure the veteran leader openly declared the military’s actions to be constitutional.
Mugabe did so, but he was visibly displeased at the entire choreographed affair.
The military’s operation “did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order, nor was it a challenge to my authority as head of state and government, not even as commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwean defense forces,” he said.
Despite having lost his power base and control of the military, Mugabe insisted he was going nowhere and even claimed he would see the ZANU-PF through its congress in a few weeks. The party is expected to ratify Mnangagwa as party leader at that event.
Zimbabweans who had been glued to state television to watch the speech live came out into the streets afterward, many in shock.
Harare resident Tina Madzimure called the speech “an embarrassment.”
“He made a fool out of the generals,” she said. “This man will go to his grave with Zimbabwe in his hands.”
CNN’s Nicole Chavez, Faith Karimi and Marilia Brocchetto contributed to this report.