Mugabe makes first public appearance after military takes control of Zimbabwe

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-17 17:15:59|Editor: Xiang Bo
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HARARE, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, reportedly under house arrest, made his first public appearance on Thursday, a day after the military appeared to have taken control of the government.

The official Herald newspaper late Thursday published photographs of Mugabe meeting Zimbabwe Defense Forces chief Constantino Chiwenga and South African envoys at State House, the presidential residence.

The meeting was also attended by Defense Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and State Security Minister Kembo Mohadi.

The 93-year-old Mugabe was pictured shaking hands with the military chief, who had issued a statement on Monday, saying purges against senior ruling party officials would end "forthwith" after Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his political ally for more than 40 years, over allegations of disloyalty and deceit.

On the other hand, the leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, Thursday urged Mugabe to resign and pave the way for democratic elections.

"In the interest of the people, Mr. Robert Mugabe must resign and step down immediately," Tsvangirai said at a press conference.

The opposition leader said there must be a negotiated all-inclusive transitional mechanism agreed upon by all national stakeholders.

He also called for comprehensive reforms before the election to ensure it was credible, free and fair.

Tsvangirai once shared power with Mugabe in a coalition government between 2009 and 2013.

Also on Thursday, Mugabe's former deputy Joice Mujuru called for a transitional arrangement that would address issues of economic recovery and electoral reforms following the military takeover.

Mujuru, whom Mugabe fired in 2014 alleging she was trying to topple him, is now the president of the National People's Party. She also leads a grouping of opposition parties (People's Rainbow Coalition) as its presidential candidate for the 2018 elections.

Mujuru told a press conference that her coalition was urging Zimbabweans to observe the rule of law as the nation sought to restore constitutional democracy.

"We believe the present political development requires collective engagement and national dialogue of all critical stakeholders in our country," she said.

Apart from politicians, such stakeholders should include faith-based organizations, civil society, workers and students, she said, adding, "We are in need of a transitional arrangement."

The military move surprised the international community, which is calling for calm and restraint.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called for calm in Zimbabwe and underlined the importance of resolving political differences through peaceful means, including dialogue, in conformity with the constitution.

He welcomed the efforts initiated by the Southern African Development Community to facilitate a peaceful solution to the situation.

China's Foreign Ministry said China's friendly policy toward Zimbabwe will not change in spite of the current situation and China will continue to advance friendly cooperation with Zimbabwe in line with the principle of equality, reciprocity and win-win cooperation.

"We sincerely hope that the situation in Zimbabwe will become stable and the issues will be resolved peacefully and appropriately," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at a daily press briefing.