Zimbabwe war vets vow to impeach Mugabe as he defies expectations of resignation

President Robert Mugabe meets with senior members of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces and police at State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 19, 2017. (ZIMPAPERS/Joseph Nyadzayo/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Zimbabwe war vets vow to impeach Mugabe as he defies expectations of resignation

HARARE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe clung to the vestiges of office on Sunday, using a TV address to maintain he was still in power despite a military takeover and a mounting clamour for his autocratic 37-year rule to end.
“The (ruling ZANU-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” Mugabe said, pitching the country into deep uncertainty.
Many Zimbabweans had expected Mugabe, 93, to announce his resignation after the army seized power, opened the floodgates of citizen protest and his once-loyal party told him to quit.
But Mugabe, sitting alongside the uniformed generals who were behind the military intervention, delivered a speech that conveyed he was unruffled by the turmoil.
Speaking slowly and occasionally stumbling as he read from the pages, Mugabe talked of the need for solidarity to resolve national problems — business-as-usual rhetoric that he has deployed over decades.
He made no reference to the chorus for him to resign and shrugged off last week’s dramatic military intervention.
“The operation I have alluded to did not amount to a threat to our well-cherished constitutional order nor did it challenge my authority as head of state, not even as commander in chief,” he said.
Instead he urged harmony and comradeship.
“Whatever the pros and cons of how they (the army) went about their operation, I... do acknowledge their concerns,” said Mugabe.
“We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions, real or perceived, in a comradely Zimbabwean spirit.”
His address provoked immediate anger, and raised concerns that Zimbabwe could be at risk of a violent reaction to the political turmoil.
“That speech has nothing to do with realities. We will go for impeachment and we are calling people back to the streets,” Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the influential war veterans’ association, told AFP.
It was not immediately clear from his remarks when and where the protests would take place.
On Saturday, in scenes of public elation not seen since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, huge crowds had marched and sang their way through Harare, believing Mugabe was about to step down.

Fired by his party
Highlighting the contradictions in Zimbabwean politics, the ruling ZANU-PF party sacked Mugabe as its leader earlier on Sunday and told him to resign as head of state, naming ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new party chief.
Analysts say the military stepped in last week after Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, secured prime position to succeed him as president following a bitter power struggle with Mnangagwa, who has close ties to the army.
The majority of Zimbabweans have only known life under Mugabe — the world’s oldest head of state — during a reign defined by violent suppression, economic collapse and international isolation.
Sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to delay his exit and to secure a deal guaranteeing future protection for him and his family.
“What you saw yesterday, it shows that the people have spoken,” Mordecai Makore, 71, a retired teacher told AFP about Saturday’s marches.
“All we want is peace, a good life with a working economy that creates jobs for our people. We will continue praying for that. I want my children and grandchildren to live a normal good life.”
The factional succession race that triggered Zimbabwe’s sudden crisis was between party hard-liner Mnangagwa — known as the Crocodile — and a group called “Generation 40,” or “G40,” because its members are generally younger, which campaigned for Grace’s cause.
The president, who is feted in parts of Africa as the continent’s last surviving independence leader, is in fragile health.
But he previously said he would stand in elections next year that would see him remain in power until he was nearly 100 years old.
He became prime minister on Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 and then president in 1987.
Zimbabwe’s economic output has halved since 2000 when many white-owned farms were seized, leaving the key agricultural sector in ruins.


US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

Updated 36 min 58 sec ago
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US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

  • John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Putin
  • “It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” said Putin’s spokesman

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington’s withdrawal from a key Cold War-era nuclear treaty would make the world more dangerous, as Donald Trump’s national security adviser met senior Russian officials in Moscow.
John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Russian Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev and was expected to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later in the day.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty “will make the world more dangerous” and rejected US claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so.
“It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” with its missile defense capabilities and drones, he said.
Lavrov said he was waiting to hear Bolton’s “official explanation” regarding Trump’s intentions, adding that for the moment the US side has not initiated the official procedure for exiting the treaty.
Trump on Saturday claimed that Russia had long violated the treaty, known as the INF.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” he told reporters.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” he said.
“And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons (while) we’re not allowed to.”
Trump’s announcement raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the US and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to “think twice.”
The Commission, the 28-nation European Union executive, stressed that the INF has been a mainstay of European defense for the last three decades.
“The US and the Russian Federation need to remain in a constructive dialogue to preserve this treaty and ensure it is fully and verifiably implemented,” spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
She said the agreement was important for both European and global security.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a unilateral withdrawal from the treaty “will have a multitude of negative effects.”
Trump argued that the treaty does nothing to hold non-signatory China back from developing missiles, but Hua said that “it is completely wrong to bring up China when talking about withdrawal from the treaty.”
The treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
Gorbachev on Sunday said that “dropping these agreements... shows a lack of wisdom” and was a “mistake.”
The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
The latest row between Russia and the United States comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between Trump and Putin this year.
Analysts have warned that the latest rift could have lamentable consequences and drag Russia into a new arms race.
The Trump administration has complained of Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the treaty’s ban on missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers).
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper said that Bolton himself is pressuring Trump to leave the INF and had blocked talks to extend the New Start treaty on strategic missiles set to expire in 2021.
US-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations Moscow meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. The two countries are also at odds over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country’s civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.
On Friday, the US Justice Department indicted the finance chief of Russia’s leading Internet troll farm for allegedly interfering with US congressional elections to be held in November.
Russia accused the United States of fabricating the charges.
Putin and Trump will both be in Paris on November 11 to attend commemorations marking 100 years since the end of World War I.