17 November 2017

Zimbabwe: Army - We're Making Progress in Talks With Mugabe

Zimbabwe's military on Friday said it was making progress in its negotiations with President Robert Mugabe after demanding that he steps down.

President Mugabe and his family have been under house arrest since the early hours of Wednesday morning after the army seized power.

Earlier this week, the generals said they were targeting alleged criminals in the president's circle, but it has become clear that they want him to pave the way for ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

'Criminals'

"Since our last update on developments in the country we wish to inform the nation that significant progress has been made in our operation," the army said in a statement released to state media.

"We have accounted for some of the criminals while others are still at large," the statement added.

"We are currently engaging with the commander-in-chief on the way forward and you will be advised on the outcome as soon as possible."

President Mugabe was on Thursday allowed to leave his private home for the first time to meet envoys sent by South African President Jacob Zuma.

He held talks with army commander Constantino Chiwenga, which according to reports did not yield much as the veteran ruler insisted on a constitutional transition.

The army had last communicated hours after the dramatic events on Wednesday morning and the lack of information left room for speculation.

There were celebrations in certain quarters on Thursday after claims that President Mugabe had agreed to step down but the latest statements will put a damper to the jubilation.

"While we appreciate the enthusiasm by certain individuals and groups within society, we want to make it clear that they should not purport to be speaking on our behalf," the army statement said.

Impasse

"We will periodically make press releases to keep the public informed of the developments in the country."

The army commended Zimbabweans for remaining peaceful during the political impasse.

General Chiwenga said he was intervening to stop the purging of Mr Mnangagwa's supporters by the ruling party by a faction linked to first lady Grace Mugabe.

Before the army takeover, the president's 52 year-old wife was destined to take over Mr Mnangagwa's post after President Mugabe fired his long-time lieutenant for 'deceit and disloyalty.'

The Southern African Development Community is expected to convene an urgent summit to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe but regional ministers on Thursday said a coup would not be tolerated.

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