Robert Mugabe still Zimbabwe president despite pressure to resign

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe on Sunday defied calls to quit immediately, saying he will preside over a ruling party congress in December in an announcement that could trigger impeachment proceedings in the parliament this week as well as more protests demanding his ouster.

In a televised address, 93-year-old Mugabe acknowledged what he said were “a whole range of concerns” of Zimbabweans about the chaotic state of the government and the economy, but stopped short of what many people in the southern African nation were hoping for — a statement that he was resigning after nearly four decades in power.

The once-formidable Mugabe is now a virtually powerless, isolated figure, making his continued incumbency all the more unusual and extending Zimbabwe’s political limbo. He is largely confined to his private home by the military, the ruling party has fired him from his leadership post and huge crowds poured into the streets of Harare, the capital, on Saturday to demand that he leave office.

One senior official told BBC News correspondent Andrew Harding, “It’s the dawn of a new era. Mugabe can go farming.”

Yet the Zimbabwean president sought to project authority in his speech, which he delivered after shaking hands with security force commanders, one of whom leaned over a couple of times to help Mugabe find his place on the page he was reading.

The Central Committee of the ruling ZANU-PF party voted to dismiss Mugabe as party leader at a meeting earlier Sunday and said impeachment proceedings would begin if he doesn’t resign as the country’s president by noon Monday. Mugabe made no reference to the party moves against him, instead saying he would play a leading role in a party congress planned for Dec. 12-17.

“The congress is due in a few weeks from now,” Mugabe said. “I will preside over its processes, which must not be prepossessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public.”

Mugabe has discussed his possible resignation on two occasions with military commanders after they effectively took over the country on Tuesday, troubled by his firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed him. He referred to the military’s expressions of concerns about the state of Zimbabwe, whose economy has deteriorated amid factional battles within the ruling party.

“Whatever the pros and cons of the way they went about registering those concerns, I as the…

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