Ruling party Zanu-PF sacks Robert Mugabe as leader

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International desk, November 19: Zimbabwe’s ruling party has sacked Robert Mugabe as its leader, as pressure intensifies for him to step down as president.Zanu-PF appointed ex-Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was fired by Mr Mugabe two weeks ago, in his place.

The party has given Mr Mugabe, 93, until 10:00 GMT on Monday to resign as president, or face impeachment.

The military intervened last week, in an apparent attempt to block him from installing his wife as his successor.

The first lady, Grace Mugabe, and several other senior officials have been expelled from the party altogether.

Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests on Saturday, demonstrating against the Mugabes.

Mr Mugabe has also reportedly been meeting military leaders on Sunday, according to Zimbabwe’s The Herald.

While no details of the talks have been released, photos posted by the state-run newspaper show the two sides – which also met several days ago – shaking hands.

Mr Mugabe is said to be seeking more time to negotiate his exit after nearly four decades in power.

Cheering erupted when the decision to dismiss Mr Mugabe as party leader was announced in Harare on Sunday.

One senior official later told the BBC’s Andrew Harding: “It’s the dawn of a new era. Mugabe can go farming.”

Zanu-PF’s central committee also warned that impeachment proceedings would begin if Mr Mugabe did not step down as president by noon local time on Monday.

Impeaching the president would require a two-thirds majority in both houses of Zimbabwe’s parliament, which is due to resume on Tuesday.

The opposition MDC-T party has tried unsuccessfully to impeach Mr Mugabe in the past, but this time the ruling party – which has an overwhelming majority in both houses – is likely to go against him.

One party official said Mr Mnangagwa, who has since reportedly returned to Zimbabwe, had been nominated as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2018 general elections.

Nicknamed “the crocodile” for his perceived shrewdness, Mr Mnangagwa is a former state security chief who is now widely expected to lead an interim post-Mugabe government.

Source: Agencies