Defiant Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe refused to step down, ignoring the midday deadline on Monday to resign and paving way for impeachment as Zimbabweans remain stunned by the leader’s actions.
Mugabe addressed the nation on Sunday hours after the ruling party, ZANU-PF, fired him as the leader. Officials said the leader, who held power for nearly four decades, was expected to resign, but Mugabe never formally stepped down. Instead, he mentioned congress and said he “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."
“I, as the president of Zimbabwe, as their commander in chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people,” he said during the speech.
Ruling party members said they will initiate the impeachment process when parliament resumes on Tuesday. The impeachment will take several days and will not immediately lead to Mugabe’s removal from. On Monday, one newspaper headline read: “Arrogant Mugabe disregards Zanu PF (Zimbabwe’s ruling party).”
War veterans and opposition leaders are expected to lead demonstrations in an attempt to pressure Mugabe to resign. “Your time is up,” veterans association leader Chris Mutsvangwa told reporters on Sunday night. He added that his association will go to court to claim Mugabe is “derelict of his executive duty” and thus should be removed from the office.
The congress is expected to ratify his firing as party chief, the expulsion of the unpopular first lady and the naming of Mugabe's recently fired deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to succeed him.
The dictator lost his party’s leadership position on Sunday, although he said he will still preside during the party’s congress next month. The congress is expected to ratify Mugabe’s firing, expel First Lady Grace Mugabe, and make former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose firing earlier this month triggered the military action against Mugabe, the new leader of the party and the potential new president.
Despite jubilant celebrations over the weekend in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, some opposition leaders are wary of military-backed transition of power, fearing that one dictator will be replaced with another one – instead of letting the people vote for their new leader, Reuters reported.
The military continues to remain present in the streets and key locations across the capital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.