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Zimbabweans take to the streets to ask Mugabe to leave

Ⓒ AFP – Jekesai Njikizana – | Manifestation in Harare to call for the departure of Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe, on November 18, 2017

Thousands of Zimbabweans went to the streets in Harare on Saturday to demand that the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, leave, little by little abandoned by his most loyal allies, in a mobilization supported by the army, which took control of the country this week. .

“Too much is too much, Mugabe has to leave,” “Mugabe rests in peace,” “No to the Mugabe dynasty,” could be read on banners displayed by protesters, most of them black but also white, a rare occurrence .

These anti-Mugabe demonstrations, which began peacefully this Saturday morning, close a week of unprecedented political crisis in Zimbabwe, where the Armed Forces took control of the country and put under house arrest the head of state, in power Since 1980.

The intervention of the army represents a turn in the long reign of Robert Mugabe, marked by the repression of any opposition and a serious economic crisis.

With 93 years, the dean of active heads of state is increasingly isolated, after his most faithful allies have left: after the army and the veterans of the war of independence, were the regional sections of the presidential party Zanu-PF who asked on Tuesday night to leave.

“I’m 30. Imagine, I’ve never worked, and this is the fault of the Mugabe regime, so we asked for a change,” Kelvin Shonhiwa, a protester with a Zimbabwean flag, told AFP on Saturday.

“We have waited too long this day,” said Emma Muchenje, 37 years old.

Stephanus Krynauw, a white farmer expelled during the controversial agrarian reform promoted by Mugabe in 2000, also took to the streets. “A long time ago something like this did not happen, be together,” the black majority and the white minority, descendants of British settlers.

Ⓒ AFP – Jekesai Njikizana – | Shouts and banners at the Zimbabwean demonstration calling for the resignation of the country’s president, Robert Mugabe, this November 18, 2017 in Harare

The protest was organized by veterans of the war of independence -involved actors of the political life of the country- and civil society movements, including the ThisFlag group of Pastor Ewan Mawarire, one of the key figures of the anti-Mugabe movement repressed in 2016 by the security forces.

The soldiers were present this Saturday in the streets of Harare, but this time the demonstrators greeted them and shook hands. Some of them even carried pictures of the chief of staff, General Constantino Chiwenga, who “fully supports” the marches.

– The game is over –

At dawn on Wednesday, the army intervened – without spilling blood – in Harare in support of Emmerson Mnangagwa, dismissed a week before his position as vice president.

The army put President Mugabe under house arrest, although he was authorized to make some trips.

On Friday, he made his first public appearance since the coup d’état, at a university diplomas ceremony in the capital. He made no speech and at times nodded, as he usually does in public, sitting in a huge armchair of wood and leather.

By authorizing him to leave the presidential residence, the army wanted to show that he treated him “with dignity and respect,” before finding a solution to the political crisis, explained Anthoni van Nieuwkerk, professor of political science at the University of Witwatersrand. , in Johannesburg.

At the moment, the discussions do not advance and the president clings to power.

The army however congratulated itself on Friday for having made “significant advances” in the purge against the environment of the presidential couple.

In the crosshairs of the Armed Forces is the group called G40, a faction of the Zanu-PF that provides support to the first lady, Grace Mugabe, and her presidential ambitions.

It was she who brought down 75-year-old Emmerson Mnangagwa, a too dangerous candidate in the race to succeed the president, after carrying out a campaign of denigration against his adversary.

“The game is over,” the influential war veteran chief, Christopher Mutsvangwa, told Mugabe on Friday.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country shortly after his dismissal, returned to Zimbabwe on Thursday. He has not yet appeared in public but his name is one of those that circulates to lead a possible political transition.

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