Several thousand demonstrators in Harare on Saturday demanded the resignation of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, who is on house arrest after a military takeover.
In the nation’s capital, they waved signs that said “Mugabe Must Rest Now” and “No to Mugabe Dynasty.” Amid army tanks and soldiers, people waved Zimbabwean flags outside the State House.
Voice of America reported demonstrations were taking place in other cities around the African country.
“The whole nation is celebrating today. We are finally getting rid of the old man,” said Tanashe, a Harare resident who didn’t give a second name to CNN.
On Wednesday, the army placed Mugabe, 93, under house arrest, detained key political allies and overtook government institutions.
Mugabe, who has been in power for 37 years, is refusing to step down, an official told CNN. Army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga wants Mugabe to step down and an interim president to take over, the source said.
At the time of the military takeover, Mugabe was in his multimillion-dollar “Blue Roof” mansion but was placed on house arrest.
On Thursday, Mugabe was photographed negotiating with Chiwenga and other officials at the official State House.
On Friday, Mugabe made his first public appearance since being placed on house arrest, attending a graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University in Harare.
“There is no way he should be allowed to continue holding power,” Jacob Ngarivhume of opposition group Transform Zimbabwe told VOA’s Zimbabwe service. “If he were to do that, then Zimbabwe would be in trouble. What I see happening is there might be a dragging on of the discussion around his departure, but eventually … he must go. He has outlived his usefulness.”
Mugabe, whose term ends in one year, has been the nation’s only leader since Zimbabwe won independence in 1980.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged a new government.
“Zimbabwe has an opportunity to set itself on a new path, one that must include democratic elections and respect for human rights,” Tillerson told African ministers and diplomats in Washington. “Ultimately, the people of Zimbabwe must choose their government.”
By Allen Cone