Zimbabwe’s Mugabe could be impeached in 2 days, ruling party says

Zimbabweans were stunned by Mugabe’s defiance during a national address Sunday night in which the increasingly isolated president, put under military house arrest last week, had been expected to step down. (AP)
Updated 20 November 2017
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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe could be impeached in 2 days, ruling party says

HARARE: Zimbabwe’s ruling party expressed confidence Monday that longtime President Robert Mugabe could be impeached within two days, while the world’s oldest head of state ignored the party’s midday deadline to resign.
As ruling party lawmakers began meeting on impeachment plans, deputy secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana said they would move a motion for impeachment on Tuesday and set up a parliamentary committee, and on Wednesday the committee would report back to all lawmakers and “we vote him out.”
The main charge against the 93-year-old Mugabe is “allowing his wife to usurp government powers” and that “he is too old and cannot even walk without help,” Mangwana told reporters.
He said the ruling ZANU-PF party needs the backing of the MDC opposition group to have enough votes in Parliament but “we have talked to them and they are supporting us.”
Zimbabweans were stunned by Mugabe’s defiance during a national address Sunday night in which the increasingly isolated president, put under military house arrest last week, had been expected to step down. Mugabe did acknowledge “a whole range of concerns” about the chaotic state of the government and the economy, which has collapsed since he took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980.
The military appears to favor a voluntary resignation for Mugabe, one of Africa’s last remaining liberation leaders, to maintain a veneer of legality in the political transition and avoid accusations of a coup. Mugabe, in turn, is likely using whatever leverage he has left to try to preserve his legacy or even protect himself and his family from possible prosecution.
Amid the political confusion, the government on Monday urged Cabinet ministers to pursue business as usual. Meanwhile, opposition activists and the influential liberation war veterans association announced more demonstrations to pressure Mugabe to go.
“Your time is up,” veterans association leader Chris Mutsvangwa said at a press conference. He suggested that the military was still beholden to Mugabe and compelled to protect him because he is officially their “commander in chief.”
The war veterans’ association will go to court to argue that Mugabe is “derelict of his executive duty,” Mutsvangwa said.
Mugabe was stripped of his party leadership on Sunday by the ruling party’s Central Committee but said in his speech he would preside over a party congress next month.
That congress is expected to ratify his firing as party chief, the expulsion of the unpopular first lady and the naming of Mugabe’s recently fired deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to succeed him.
The firing of Mnangagwa and the positioning of first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as president led the military to step in last week. Mugabe has discussed his possible exit on two occasions with military commanders.
Some people in the capital, Harare, have become more cautious about talking to reporters. That contrasted with the jubilation and open condemnation of Mugabe over the weekend, when the bulk of Harare’s population of roughly 1.6 million appeared to be in the streets, dancing and taking selfies with soldiers in an event backed by the military.
At the University of Zimbabwe, students protested and refused to sit for exams, demanding that Mugabe step down. The spokesman for the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zivai Mhetu, said they want all universities shut down until he does.
The once-formidable Mugabe is now virtually powerless, largely confined to his private home by the military.
Yet he sought to project authority in his speech Sunday night, which he delivered after shaking hands with security force commanders. The army commander himself leaned over a couple of times to help the president find his place on the page he was reading.
“I, as the president of Zimbabwe, as their commander in chief, do acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people,” Mugabe said.


Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

Updated 15 December 2018
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Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

  • Trilateral talks also focused on boosting trust and security between the three countries
  • FM Qureshi extends the olive branch for a new chapter with Kabul

KABUL: Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China held a trilateral meeting in Kabul on Saturday where they discussed measures to boost political trust and join hands for a regional war against militancy which would facilitate the Afghan peace process, even as Taliban insurgents stepped up their attacks.

The meeting was the second one to take place after Beijing had initiated the talks in December last year in order to ease the rising tension between Kabul and Islamabad whose relationship is highly critical for Beijing’s growing economic and political clout in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In recent years, China has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan and is actively using its influence to bring the two South Asian neighbors closer.

Pakistan has long been accused by Afghanistan and the US of providing safe havens for Afghan Taliban leaders, by funding and arming them since their ouster in late 2001.

Islamabad has denied the allegations.

After the meeting on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi pushed for a new chapter with Afghanistan, adding that the ongoing blame game would not help in achieving peace or building trust between Islamabad and Kabul.

He said that the Daesh and militants from Central Asia and eastern China were against the peace process in Afghanistan, urging for joint efforts to tackle the extremism.

“I am here to engage with Afghanistan. Let us not stick to the past and stop pointing a finger on Pakistan… I came here to build trust and bridges and reach peace and stability. Any improvement in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan,” Qureshi told a news conference.

The three countries signed an agreement pushing for joint efforts in the war against militancy with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, saying that the coming weeks and months will be highly crucial in evaluating Pakistan’s intentions and its role in supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Officials from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have held a number of meetings in recent years to mend bilateral ties and work towards measures to fight militancy. However, those talks were an exercise in futility as they were followed by the two countries trading accusations and resorting to the blame game. Rabbani said that “the time has come (for Pakistan) to practically show with genuine steps” that it will fulfill its pledges.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described both Afghanistan and Pakistan as its strategic partners, adding that China had great political trust in the two. He asked both the countries to resolve their problems in a peaceful manner and backed the US’ efforts to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, urging the militant group to get involved in the process. 

“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan’s efforts for peace and we call on the Taliban to join the peace process. Cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China is important to bring peace to Afghanistan.” 

The three sides emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and economic development between them. 

Saturday’s meeting took place at a time when Washington is stepping up its efforts to hold talks with the Taliban by meeting with regional powers on how to end the US war in Afghanistan which began more than 17 years ago.

Mohammad Nateqi, a former Afghan diplomat, said that a deciding factor for Saturday’s agreement to work depended on building mutual trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan given the fact that similar conversations have taken place between Kabul and Islamabad earlier as well, without bearing any fruit.

However, at the same time, he was optimistic about positive results, reasoning that the situation had changed when compared to the past with the US increasing its efforts for talks with the Taliban.

“Such meetings can be helpful in mending ties between the countries and in helping them come closer to achieving a peace plan,” he told Arab News.