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Huge anti-Mugabe protest begins in Harare (Lead)

Harare, Nov 18 (IANS) Thousands gathered in the centre of Harare on Saturday to demand the resignation of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Euphoric crowds filled streets in the centre of the city and cars honked their horns. “It’s like Christmas,” said one marcher, adding Zimbabweans had been suffering for a long time and were now happy, reports the Guardian.

Many carried national flags. One had a poster with a message for the 93-year-old president: “Leave Zimbabwe now!!!” while a vendor at an intersection held up a newspaper with the headline: “Mugabe cornered”.

The rally deemed as a “solidarity march”, is supported by the military which staged a takeover on Wednesday after a power struggle over Muagabe’s successor, reports the BBC.

Regional branches of the ruling Zanu-PF party as well as war veterans, who until now were loyal to the President, on Friday said Mugabe should quit within 48 hours.

By late Friday afternoon, all 10 of the country’s provincial Zanu-PF branches had passed motions of no confidence in the President.

This could lead to Mugabe being stripped of his office of president of the party by Sunday, one official told the Guardian.

Earlier on Friday, Mugabe, who had been confined to his luxurious residence in the upscale Harare neighbourhood of Borrowdale since the military takeover, attended a university graduation ceremony on the outskirts of the capital city.

Clad in academic gown and hat, he walked slowly in a procession on a red carpet to a podium as a marching band played. He was applauded as he announced the opening of the ceremony.

On Friday morning an Army statement describing “significant progress” was broadcast on national television and published by state-run media.

Since the takeover, the military has arrested about a dozen senior officials and leading members of the G40, a faction of Zanu-PF who are loyal to First Lady Grace Mugabe who has not been seen since.

Sources told the Guardian she was in her husband’s Harare residence when he was detained on Tuesday.

Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, apparently to pave the way for the Fist Lady, who is four decades younger than him, to take over the presidency instead.

Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

Post Source: Ians feed

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