Zimbabwe’s Parliament has begun impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe, the first time in the country’s 37-year history that it has attempted such a move.
A joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly began after Parliament opened a session earlier Tuesday to lay out the procedures.
The ruling party, ZANU-PF, said it planned to move a motion to formally expel Mugabe, who has been clinging on to the presidency despite a military takeover last week.
ZANU-PF, which Mugabe co-founded and led for decades, ousted the 93-year-old leader as its party chief on Sunday and gave him an ultimatum to step down in 24 hours or face impeachment.
The former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has joined those calling for Mugabe to stand down, in his first comments since the President fired him on November 6, triggering the political firestorm.
Ministers snub Mugabe: Mugabe called a cabinet meeting for Tuesday morning, but most members didn’t show up, state media reported, in a further indication that his authority was ebbing away.
‘Mugabe go home’: Protesters gathered outside the Houses of Parliament, calling for Mugabe to quit, holding signs reading “Bob resign now” and “Mugabe go home.”
Mnangagwa’s whereabouts unknown: The former vice president’s statement offered no clues about his location. Mnangagwa was named as ZANU-PF’s new party chief on Sunday, paving the way for him to contest the 2018 presidential elections.
‘The Crocodile’ resurfaces
In a TV broadcast on Monday night, the leaders of Zimbabwe’s military takeover said Mnangagwa had been in touch with Mugabe and planned to return to the country to discuss the way forward.
But in a a strongly worded statement from an unknown location on Tuesday morning, Mnangagwa said that he would not return until his safety could be guaranteed.
Mnangagwa — known as “The Crocodile” on account of his sharp political skills — enjoys widespread support within the military and is reported to have been in touch with army chiefs behind the scenes in recent days. But the apparent divergence in strategy indicated that they may not be moving in lock step.
“I told the President I would not return home now until I am satisfied of my personal security, because of the manner and treatment given to me upon being fired,” he said in the statement.