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Mugabe Passes Deadline to Resign       11/20 06:20

   HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Longtime President Robert Mugabe ignored a midday 
deadline set by the ruling party to step down or face impeachment proceedings, 
while Zimbabweans stunned by his lack of resignation during a national address 
vowed more protests to make him leave.

   "Arrogant Mugabe disregards Zanu PF," one newspaper headline said.

   Opposition activists and the influential liberation war veterans association 
announced more demonstrations to pressure the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's 
oldest head of state, to step down after 37 year in power.

   "Your time is up," veterans association leader Chris Mutsvangwa said at a 
press conference. "You should have the dignity and decency to spare the country 
of further turmoil by simply announcing your departure immediately."

   He also suggested that the military, even though it put Mugabe under house 
arrest days ago, was still beholden to him and compelled to protect him because 
he is officially their "commander in chief."

   Zimbabweans were astonished that Mugabe, flanked by the military in his 
national address Sunday night, remained defiant.

   The war veterans' association will go to court to argue that Mugabe is 
"derelict of his executive duty," Mutsvangwa said.

   Some ruling party members said an impeachment process likely wouldn't lead 
to Mugabe's immediate resignation and could take days to complete. Mugabe was 
stripped of his party leadership on Sunday by the Central Committee of the 
ruling ZANU-PF but said in his speech he would preside over a party congress 
next month.

   The congress is expected to ratify his firing as party chief, the expulsion 
of the unpopular first lady and the naming of Mugabe's recently fired deputy to 
succeed him.

   Amid the confusion, some people in the capital, Harare, are now more 
cautious about talking to reporters. That contrasts with the jubilation and 
open condemnation of Mugabe over the weekend, when the bulk of Harare's 
population of roughly 1.6 million appeared to be in the streets, dancing and 
taking selfies with soldiers in an event backed by the military.

   At the University of Zimbabwe on Monday, students protested and refused to 
sit for exams, singing and demanding that Mugabe step down. The spokesman for 
the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Zivai Mhetu, said they want all 
universities shut down until he does.

   Mugabe in his speech acknowledged "a whole range of concerns" of Zimbabweans 
about the chaotic state of the government and its collapsed economy, but he 
stopped short of what many in the southern African nation were hoping for --- a 
statement that he was stepping down.

   The once-formidable Mugabe is now a virtually powerless 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.

   Yet the president sought to project authority in his speech, which he 
delivered after shaking hands with security force commanders. The army 
commander himself, whose threat to "step in" last week led to Mugabe's house 
arrest, leaned over a couple of times to help the president find his place on 
the page he was reading.

   Mugabe has discussed his possible resignation on two occasions with military 
commanders after they effectively took over the country on Tuesday. The 
commanders were troubled by his firing of his longtime deputy and the 
positioning of unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to succeed him.

   "I, as the president of Zimbabwe, as their commander in chief, do 
acknowledge the issues they have drawn my attention to, and do believe that 
these were raised in the spirit of honesty and out of deep and patriotic 
concern for the stability of our nation and for the welfare of our people," 
Mugabe said.

   The deputy whom Mugabe fired, former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is 
positioned to become Zimbabwe's next leader after the party committee made him 
its nominee to take over from Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from 
white minority rule in 1980.

   The military appears to favor a voluntary resignation to maintain a veneer 
of legality in the political transition. Mugabe, in turn, is likely using 
whatever leverage he has left to try to preserve his legacy or even protect 
himself and his family from possible prosecution.


(KA)

 
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