Robert Mugabe vows to stay in power after party vote

People cheer during a march in the streets to demand that President Robert Mugabe resign and step down from power in Harare, Zimbabwe, on November 19. 2017. The 93-year-old leader has been in power for 37 years, but has been given 24 hours to resign or face impeachment. Photo by Belal Khaled/UPI

Nov. 19 (UPI) — Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe on Sunday vowed to remain in power, despite a vote by the ruling party to remove him as their leader.

Mugabe, 93, delivered a speech announcing his intention to preside over a meeting of the ruling ZANU-PF party, after the party voted to give him less than 24 hours to resign as president or be impeached.

“The [ruling ZANU-PF] party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” he said.

Earlier the ZANU-PF party voted in an emergency session at its Harare headquarters to oust Mugabe, who has been under house arrest following a military takeover Wednesday, and replace him as party leader with Emmerson Mnangagwa, the previously fired vice president.

Cheers could be heard from outside the party headquarters after the vote.

The party also was considering Sunday whether to recommend the country’s Parliament begin impeachment proceedings against the embattled president.

Mugabe, who has been in office for 37 years, met with the nation’s security force, which has sought to strike a deal that would involve Mugabe’s resignation, before his speech, but he emerged maintaining he would remain in power.

“Today’s meeting with the command element has underscored the need for us to collectively start processes that return our nation to normalcy. So that all our people can go about their business unhindered, in an environment of perfect peace and security,” he said.

Mugabe’s nephew, Indigenization Minister Patrick Zhuwao, said the president “is willing to die for his principles.”

“He is willing to die to protect the constitution,” CNN quoted him as saying.

Mugabe removed Mnangagwa on Nov. 6 as part of an attempt to install his wife, Grace Mugabe, as the country’s next leader.

The ZANU-PF party voted to remove Grace Mugabe as head of the party’s Woman’s League, and she was barred for life from the party alongside several officials in the Mugabe government.

Mugabe shuffled papers during his address and apologized for its length, but did not make direct mention of his wife’s removal or Mnangagwa being named ZANU-PF’s new leader.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Harare and other Zimbabwean cities on Saturday to demand Mugabe’s resignation. The demonstrators waved signs reading “Mugabe Must Rest Now” and “No to Mugabe Dynasty.” Amid army tanks and soldiers, people waved Zimbabwean flags outside the State House.

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