|Zimbabwe's long-time President Robert Mugabe|
Zimbabwe's long-time President Robert Mugabe is reportedly refusing to
step down immediately, despite growing calls for his resignation.
The 93-year-old was put under house arrest during a military takeover
on Wednesday, amid a power struggle over who would succeed him.
The military said on Friday it was "engaging" with Mr Mugabe.
It also said it had been arresting "criminals" around the president, but gave no names.
Several senior officials are said to have been detained since Wednesday. "Others are still at large," the military said.
In a televised statement, the military said it would advise the nation
on the outcome of talks with Mr Mugabe "as soon as possible".
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said it was "in the interests of the people" that Mr Mugabe "resign... immediately".
The army moved in after Mr Mugabe last week sacked Vice-President
Emmerson Mnangagwa, signalling that he favoured his wife Grace Mugabe to
take over his Zanu-PF party and thus the presidency.
The BBC's Andrew Harding, in Zimbabwe, says that if President Mugabe
can be persuaded to step down officially it could help legitimise the
military's dramatic intervention.
On the streets, it is hard to find anyone who wants Mr Mugabe to stay
on, our correspondent adds, but negotiating the manner of his departure
and some sort of transitional agreement to follow could take some time.
So what's going on in Harare now?
It is very unclear.
Photos in the Zimbabwe Herald earlier showed Mr Mugabe meeting army
chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga and the two envoys from the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) at State House in Harare.
Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest
known to Mr Mugabe for years, who has been brought in to mediate.
Sources close to the talks say Mr Mugabe - who has been in control of
Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980 - is refusing to
stand down voluntarily before next year's planned elections.
"I think he is trying to buy time," one source close to the army leadership told the AFP news agency.
Some observers suggest that Mr Mugabe may be trying to seek guarantees
of safety for himself and his family before stepping aside.
Zanu-PF officials had earlier suggested Mr Mugabe could remain
nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Mr
Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.
|Mr Mugabe (second right) under house arrest, posing alongside Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga (right)|
What is the view among Zimbabweans?
Many Zimbabweans almost instantly warmed to the military's move to take
control of the country, and confine President Mugabe to his official
"The military has done a good thing," says one bookseller. "They will ensure we get a transitional government."
He is firmly convinced that Mr Mugabe's 37-year rule is coming to an
end. There has been a sudden change of tone in the country, and the
sense is that many Zimbabweans have been yearning for change.
Any change, it seems, would do.
What do South Africa and the region want?
South Africa is hosting millions of Zimbabweans who fled after the
country's economy crashed in 2008. It has a special interest in seeing
South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula and State
Security Minister Bongani Bongo are the envoys meeting Mr Mugabe on
behalf of Sadc, which South Africa currently leads.
Sadc also held a meeting in neighbouring Botswana and called for a
regional summit to discuss the crisis. They urged Zimbabwe to "settle
the political challenges through peaceful means," the AFP news agency
The African Union said it would not accept a military seizure of power.
AU head and Guinea President Alpha Condé said he was "inviting the army
to return to its barracks and return to constitutional order".
And Zimbabwe's opposition?
Mr Tsvangirai, head of the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai
(MDC-T) party and the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe, said Mr
Mugabe's immediate resignation must be part of a "negotiated
all-inclusive transitional mechanism".
He said this should lead to "comprehensive reforms for free and fair
elections to be held" - views echoed by another opposition leader Tendai
What's happened to Grace Mugabe?
Early reports suggested Mrs Mugabe had fled to Namibia, but sources now
say she is in the family compound in Harare, along with some of the
youth wing of Zanu-PF who had backed her.
On Wednesday, one of her key allies Kudzai Chipanga, made a televised
apology for criticising the head of the army as a war of words raged
prior to the military takeover.
Mr Chipanga is thought to be in army custody but insisted his statement
was voluntary. Other senior members of the youth wing have also
reportedly been detained.
How did the military takeover come about?
In the early hours of Wednesday, Zimbabwe's military took over the
headquarters of national broadcaster ZBC and issued a statement saying
they were targeting "criminals" around President Mugabe.
Troops and armoured vehicles encircled parliament and other key buildings throughout the day.
On Monday, Gen Chiwenga had warned the army would intervene to end what
he called the "purging" of Zanu-PF members "with a liberation
background", referring to the country's struggle for independence.
Mr Mnangagwa is one such veteran of the 1970s war which led to independence.