Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has turned up to a university graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare, his first public appearance since the military staged an apparent coup two days ago.
Reports by CNN say the veteran leader arrived at the Harare Open University in a blue-and-yellow gown, accompanied by his security detail, two days after being placed under house arrest in Wednesday’s military takeover.
Speculation has swirled over whether a deal has been made to shove the 93-year-old leader out of power, after 37 years of rule.
A statement from the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) released early Friday said that military leaders were “currently engaging” with Mugabe and would advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible.
The statement, which was read on state television, said the ZDF had made “significant progress” in its operation to apprehend “criminals” around Mugabe, the justification it used for its overnight military takeover Wednesday.
Political maneuvering by the couple to position Grace as Mugabe’s heir apparent is at the heart of the political tumult in the southern African country. Last week Mugabe dismissed Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former ally, prompting Mnangagwa’s military allies to act.
Apparently, plans to take over the country by force have been in place for some time – and that Mnangagwa was instrumental in those plans according to reports.
“This takeover was planned a long time ago by Emmerson Mnangagwa and secret discussions did take place with opposition about a succession plan including forcing out Mugabe,” a senior opposition leader with direct knowledge of the talks said.
“What you saw yesterday at State House was acting,” the source said, referring to the images that were published of Mugabe speaking with military chiefs.
The source said that Mnangagwa’s hand was forced, and the plan was put into action, when Grace Mugabe appeared to become a front runner in succeeding her husband.
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