Zimbabwe Pres. Mugabe meets with army commander following military takeover

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe met with army commander Constantino Chiwenga Thursday to discuss the country’s ongoing turmoil and a likely transition of power following Tuesday’s military takeover and Mugabe being forced into house arrest.

The president’s motorcade was seen driving through the capital, Harare, earlier in the day, followed by helicopters overhead. Photos posted to the Zimbabwe Herald showed the pair together at the state house. Details of the conversation were not made available.

The meeting came after Mugabe was taken into military custody earlier this week. Military officials took control of the country and placed the president and his wife on house confinement, but they have insisted that it is not a coup.

Mugabe, 93, has been president of Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in 1980 and is the world’s oldest head of state.


Chiwenga had threatened to “step in” to calm tensions after Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which caused a stir in the country.

Quiet talks have since continued in Zimbabwe to resolve the country's political turmoil and the likely end of Mugabe's decades-long rule.

Speculation lingered throughout the day with no official word on Mugabe’s status as leader but analyst Knox Chitiyo, an associate fellow with the Africa program at Chatham House, said a transition of power appeared to be close.

"What is clear, it is now a matter of hours or days before he steps down," Chitiyo said, adding that the transition is aimed at being peaceful and controlled.


Meanwhile Joice Mujuru, the former vice president of the country who was fired by Mugabe in 2014, has called for “free, fair and credible elections” following a transition arrangement.

She is calling for an election "in reasonable time" monitored by regional and international institutions under the eye of the United Nations.

The call for elections comes as cabinet ministers from four countries in the 15-nation Southern African Development Community call for an emergency summit to discuss the political turmoil in the country - a move widely seen as essential to giving Mugabe a dignified exit from power.

Additionally, a joint statement by more than 100 civil society groups have urged Mugabe to peacefully step aside. The groups have asked the military to quickly restore order and respect the constitution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.