Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appeared in public for the first time since the army’s takeover earlier this week. Mugabe, who was believed to be under house arrest, attended a university graduation ceremony in Harare on today, where he was welcomed by a cheering crowd of supporters.
Dressed in a blue academic gown and hat, he entered the ceremony venue surrounded by security personnel, and announced the opening of the event after joining the crowd in singing the national anthem.
Mugabe’s surprise appearance came after soldiers took control of the headquarters of the state broadcaster ZBC and blocked access to government offices on Wednesday, while denying it was part of a coup against Mugabe’s government.
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According to an army statement broadcast on Zimbabwe state television on today, military leaders were “engaging with the Commander-in-Chief President Robert Mugabe on the way forward and will advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible”.
Earlier The army said the aim of the military intervention was the arrest of criminal elements around Mugabe. It also suggests that if they have anyone in place to take over, it will probably take some time. This will not happen immediately, possible not before the ruling party’s conference in December.”Significant progress has been made in their operation to weed out criminals around President Mugabe,” the statement said, adding that the military had arrested some while others remained at large.
The president appeared at the university without his wife, Grace Mugabe, whose whereabouts are still unknown.Her rapid political rise had alarmed many who feared she could succeed her husband after he fired his longtime deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, last week. That firing set off the military’s moves, and Mnangagwa is expected to lead any new government.