Impatience with Mugabe

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest this week, even as the military announced "significant progress" on talks for his departure and arrested some of his allies, and branches of the ruling party began to pass no-confidence votes in the world's oldest head of state.

Mugabe's appearance at a pomp-filled graduation ceremony, to polite applause, came during an extraordinary series of negotiations with regional leaders over his departure after 37 years in power.

Zimbabwe's military is taking pains to show respect for the 93-year-old leader by referring to him as the president and the commander-in-chief.

But some in the ruling ZANU-PF party signalled they were getting impatient with Mugabe, with party branches passing no-confidence votes in the provinces of Mashonaland East and Manicaland. Others among the country's 10 provinces, including Midlands, Masvingo and Harare, were said to be following suit.

Parliament is expected to resume sitting on Tuesday. It is possible that the ZANU-PF could use party procedures to impeach Mugabe with the support of opposition lawmakers.

Mugabe has asked for "a few more days, a few more months," the chairman of the influential war veterans' association in Zimbabwe told reporters.

Chris Mutsvangwa, an ally of the recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who is expected to lead any new government, said that "between now and tomorrow" they will warn Mugabe that the game is over. "If he doesn't leave, we will settle the scores tomorrow."

Headlines in some local newspapers declared the Mugabe era over. "Dawn of a new era," one said. "Mugabe remembered for brutal 37-year rule," said another.

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