Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe defied expectations he would resign on Sunday, pledging to preside over a ZANU-PF congress next month even though the ruling party had removed him as its leader hours earlier.
ZANU-PF had given the 93-year-old less than 24 hours to quit as head of state or face impeachment, an attempt to secure a peaceful end to his tenure after a de facto coup.
Mugabe said in a address on state television that he acknowledged criticism against him from ZANU-PF, the military and the public, but did not comment on the possibility of standing down.
Mugabe has now finished speaking… there was no hint of a resignation in his address.
He says “we cannot be guided by bitterness”
Mugabe says he believes the concerns were raised in the “spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and welfare of our people”.
President Mugabe says “the government remains committed to improving this social and material conditions of the people”.
He has acknowledged that the country’s economy is going through a “difficult patch”.
He says “the pillars of state remained functional” amid the crisis, in which Zimbabweans rallied by the tens of thousands against him and ruling party leaders told him to step aside or face impeachment.
Mugabe is poised to step down after 37 years in power making him the world’s oldest head of state.
He says that Zimbabwe needs to “return to normalcy”.
A frail Mugabe reads his statement slowly and pauses frequently.
Mugabe says army intervention was “triggered by concerns arising from their reading of the state of affairs in our country and in the ruling Zanu-PF party”.
Mugabe says a meeting with the military leaders today has made him aware of issues that need to be addressed in the country.