Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe ignored continued calls to step down on Sunday— a stubborn defiance that could trigger impeachment proceedings as early as Monday.
Before Mugabe addressed the nation, multiple media outlets cited government sources to report that the 93-year-old despot — under house arrest following an apparent coup— was going to surrender the post he has held since 1987.
But in a speech about political division, Mugabe refused to say he was resigning.
“We cannot be guided by bitterness or vengefulness — both of which would not make us any better,” he told the nation, seated at a table with military and political leaders around him.
The ruler promised to address his regime’s shortcomings.
“The government remains committed to improving the social and material conditions of the people,” Mugabe said.
He vowed that he will be running an upcoming session of his party’s congress.
“I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public,” he said.
Hours earlier, Mugabe was fired by his own party as its leader.
The central committee of his ruling party, ZANU-PF, told Mugabe to resign by noon Monday or face impeachment.
“I don’t see us failing to proceed with the impeachment,” said ZANU-PF’s chief whip Lovemore Matuke.
Mugabe’s failure to resign stunned Zimbabwean officials.
“This dictator has absolutely no right to play pingpong with our people,” tweeted former Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti.