Harare, Nov 17 (IANS) Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe turned up at a university graduation ceremony here on Friday, his first public appearance since the military staged an apparent coup two days ago.
The veteran leader arrived at the Harare Open University in a blue-and-yellow gown accompanied by his security detail, two days after being reportedly placed under house arrest since Wednesday’s military takeover.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) in a statement said on Friday that it was “engaging” with 93-year-old Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks “as soon as possible”, the BBC reported.
Mugabe earlier appeared to be resisting efforts to force him to stand aside.
The ZDF said it made “significant progress” in its operation to apprehend “criminals” around Mugabe, the justification it used for the military takeover.
Mugabe, who has ruled the country since its independence in 1980, is still — nominally, at least — head of state. He appeared in photos published in the local media on Thursday, speaking with Army leader Commander General Constantino Chiwenga at Zimbabwe’s State House.
A group of 115 civil society organisations called on Mugabe to peacefully step down and for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) — which South African President Jacob Zuma chairs — to step in as arbiter of the transition talks.
The international community is treading carefully over the expected transition, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres saying he was “closely following developments in Zimbabwe and calls for continued calm”.
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