Key players in Zimbabwe’s political crisis – World

A lot has happened in the past few days in Zimbabwe, where the world’s oldest head of state tries to remain in power even under military house arrest. Thousands of giddy Zimbabweans have poured in the streets to demand his departure, tired of a collapsing economy that once was one of Africa’s strongest. Here’s a quick guide to the key events and players:

Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe seemed almost untouchable for much of his nearly four-decade rule. Shrewd and ruthless, he managed to stay in power despite advancing age, growing opposition, international sanctions and the dissolving economy of a once-prosperous African nation. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press)

The 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe has been under house arrest since Tuesday, when the military moved in. That decision was sparked by Mugabe’s firing of his longtime deputy, leading to fears that the president was positioning his unpopular wife, Grace, to succeed him. Mugabe is said to be asking for more time amid negotiations on his departure. The military has been taking pains to refer to him as president and allowed him to make a public appearance Friday at a graduation ceremony, where he received polite applause.

The military

A Zimbabwean Defence Force soldier salutes a citizen on Saturday during a march to demand that Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president step down after 37 years in power. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe’s army commander on Monday threatened to “step in” after Mugabe fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and the next day he did. In an extraordinary image on Thursday, state-run media published photos of Gen. Constantino Chiwenga shaking hands with a smiling Mugabe at the State House as negotiations with regional leaders continued. They were meeting again on Sunday. The military is trying not to project the image of a coup, which could bring regional sanctions and further harm the country’s standing with international investors.

The ruling party

Delegates celebrate after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as party leader at an extraordinary meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF’s central committee in Harare on Sunday. (Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters )

To cheers and singing, members of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s Central Committee began an emergency meeting Sunday to recall Mugabe as party leader. They also want the first lady recalled and the fired Mnangagwa reinstated. The ruling party also could press for impeachment when Parliament resumes…

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