The Latest: US says Zimbabwe's people want end to isolation - InfoNews

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The Latest: US says Zimbabwe's people want end to isolation

Zimbabweans drink, dance, sing and ride on a passing truck as they celebrate at night at an intersection in downtown Harare, Zimbabwe Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Mugabe resigned as president with immediate effect Tuesday after 37 years in power, shortly after parliament began impeachment proceedings against him. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
November 21, 2017 - 1:23 PM

HARARE, Zimbabwe - The Latest on Zimbabwe's political turmoil (all times local):

11:25 p.m.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the people of Zimbabwe want a "new era" and an end to international isolation after the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president.

Nauert says the U.S. is unsure what arrangements will be made for governing Zimbabwe in the short term. But she says there should ultimately be "free and fair elections." She says the U.S. is urging "unwavering respect for the rule of law and for established democratic practices."

Nauert is declining to say whether the process that led to Mugabe's ouster constitutes a coup. But she says Mugabe ultimately decided to resign after impeachment proceedings.

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11:15 p.m.

The African Union Commission chairman says Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe will be remembered "as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation."

The statement by Moussa Faki Mahamat welcomes Mugabe's decision to resign after 37 years in power.

"Today's decision will go down in history as an act of statesmanship that can only bolster President Mugabe's political legacy."

Mugabe is a former chairman of the continental body.

The AU statement recognizes that the Zimbabwean people "have expressed their will."

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10:45 p.m.

The Zimbabwe pastor who last year led the country's largest anti-government protests in a decade says "I can't stop crying" after the resignation of Robert Mugabe as president.

Evan Mawarire tweeted as residents of the capital, Harare, poured into the streets after Mugabe's resignation letter was read out in Parliament in the middle of impeachment proceedings.

People immediately started taking down official portraits of Mugabe, who led for 37 years.

Former government minister David Coltart says on Twitter that "this is the first time that Robert Mugabe has made Zimbabweans universally happy since independence."

He echoes concerns by some about the incoming leader, Mugabe's longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, saying that "we have removed a tyrant but not yet a tyranny. But we thank God for this day."

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9:40 p.m.

Human rights groups are urging Zimbabwe to respect the rule of law as the country shifts into an era without Robert Mugabe.

Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty says in a statement that the people of Zimbabwe deserve better "after more than three decades of violent repression."

Shetty says that during Mugabe's 37 years in power, "tens of thousands of people were tortured, forcibly disappeared or killed. President Mugabe condoned human rights violations, defended criminal actions of his officials and allowed a culture of impunity for grotesque crimes to thrive."

Some Zimbabweans and observers are watching with concern as Mugabe's longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to be sworn in within the next day.

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9:10 p.m.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Robert Mugabe was "a despot who impoverished his country" and his exit is a "moment of joy" for Zimbabwe.

Johnson says he hopes Mugabe's resignation will be a turning point and that there should now be "free and fair democratic elections and above all not a transition from one despotic rule to another."

Johnson says Mugabe played a major role in the creation of an independent Zimbabwe but had "allowed that legacy to be squandered and his country went, I'm afraid, to wrack and ruin."

Asked if Mugabe and his wife, Grace, should face justice, Johnson says: "That is a decision for the people of Zimbabwe."

Britain is the former colonial power.

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9 p.m.

The deputy spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general says Antonio Guterres is encouraging all Zimbabweans to "maintain calm and restraint" after the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

Farhan Haq also says any analysis of the developments is up to journalists.

He says that "the secretary-general and his predecessors have made clear that we expect all leaders to listen to their people. That is a cornerstone of every form of government and needs to be followed in every continent and in every nation."

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8:45 p.m.

Zimbabwe's military commander is warning people not to target old adversaries following the resignation of President Robert Mugabe after 37 years in power.

"Acts of vengeful retribution or trying to settle scores will be dealt with severely," Gen. Constantino Chiwenga said Tuesday.

The military stepped in last week to put Mugabe under house arrest, in a move that unleashed nationwide calls for the president to step down.

There was no immediate word from the military on the operation it also mounted against what it called "criminals" close to the unpopular first lady.

Mugabe's firing of his deputy and positioning of Grace Mugabe to succeed him led the military to step in.

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8:10 p.m.

Zimbabwe's state broadcaster is announcing the resignation of President Robert Mugabe more than two hours after the news was announced in Parliament during impeachment proceedings.

The broadcaster had been running normally scheduled programming and was showing an agriculture show when the news broke.

The nightly newscast says a new leader could be sworn in within 24 hours.

It reports "wild cheers and jubilation" in the streets and shows footage of crowds dancing in the capital, Harare.

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7:35 p.m.

The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe "marks an historic moment" for the country and congratulates all Zimbabweans who raised their voices.

The new statement says that "whatever short-term arrangements the government may establish, the path forward must lead to free, fair and inclusive elections."

The United States also urges "unwavering respect for the rule of law."

The U.S. in 2003 imposed targeted sanctions, a travel ban and an asset freeze against Mugabe and close associates, citing his government's rights abuses and evidence of electoral fraud.

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6:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe gives Zimbabwe "an opportunity to forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule."

The British leader says the Zimbabwean people have shown they want "free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country's economy under a legitimate government."

May says Britain — the former colonial power — is "Zimbabwe's oldest friend" and will "help the country achieve the brighter future it so deserves."

Mugabe resigned Tuesday, after 37 years in power, as Zimbabwe's parliament was preparing to impeach him.

— Jill Lawless in London.

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6:30 p.m.

The streets of Zimbabwe's capital have erupted in dancing, singing, honking and cheers after President Robert Mugabe announced his immediate resignation after 37 years in power.

The announcement came in the middle of Parliament impeachment proceedings and after a massive demonstration in Harare over the weekend. Frustration spilled over in the once-prosperous southern African nation after the economy collapsed and Mugabe's government cracked down on opposition.

A ruling party official says recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to take power within two days.

Activists and others are greeting the extraordinary end of Mugabe's time in power with tears. The world's oldest head of state had vowed to rule until death.

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6:15 p.m.

A Zimbabwe ruling party official tells The Associated Press that recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa will take over as the country's leader within 48 hours after President Robert Mugabe resigned.

Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke says Mnangagwa, who fled the country after his firing, "is not far from here."

The official spoke to the AP immediately after the Parliament speaker announced Mugabe's immediate resignation during impeachment proceedings.

Matuke says they look forward to Mugabe doing the handover of power "so that Mnangagwa moves with speed to work for the country."

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6 p.m.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says he is resigning immediately and voluntarily in order to have a "smooth transfer of power" after 37 years in charge.

The letter was read out in a cheering, dancing Parliament, which had been pursuing impeachment of the 93-year-old Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state.

The resignation comes at the end of a week of extraordinary events that began with the military moving in last week, angered by Mugabe's firing of his longtime deputy and the positioning of the unpopular first lady to succeed him.

Impeachment allegations against Mugabe included that he "allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power" and that he is "of advanced age" and too incapacitated to rule.

Mugabe also was accused of allowing unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to threaten to kill the recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other officials.

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5:55 p.m.

Zimbabwe's Parliament has erupted in cheers as the speaker announces the resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

The speaker stopped impeachment proceedings to say they had received a letter from Mugabe with the resignation "with immediate effect."

It is an extraordinary end for the world's oldest head of state after 37 years in power.

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5:25 p.m.

An expert on Zimbabwean law says impeachment is a process that requires a vote, a committee investigation and a second vote.

Derek Matyszak, senior researcher for the Institute for Security Studies, says the first step is for both houses of Parliament to pass the impeachment motion by a 50 per cent majority. Then a joint committee is formed to investigate allegations and determine if there is adequate evidence that Mugabe should be impeached.

If the committee recommends impeachment, both houses must pass the impeachment by a two-thirds majority, which is at least 233 seats of the 347-seat total.

Matyszak says that "the moment they vote to accept the report and impeach Mugabe, he loses office. The constitution is clear about that. Mugabe can appeal to the judiciary but he would be out of office."

It is not clear how long the process will take or how extensive the investigation would be, including with possible testimony from Mugabe.

Matyszak says that "I think it will be fast-tracked, but they want to take enough time to give the proceedings an air of propriety. They want this to look like a legitimate proceeding. That could be done so the final vote is on Wednesday or Thursday."

Parliament is currently hearing allegations and has not yet formed a committee.

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5:15 p.m.

Zimbabwe's Parliament members are cheering as they listen to allegations against President Robert Mugabe as they enter the next stage of the impeachment process.

Parliament is now forming a committee to investigate the allegations against Mugabe, including that he "allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power" and that he is "of advanced age."

Mugabe also is accused of allowing unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe to threaten to kill the recently fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other officials.

In addition, "we have seen the president sleeping in Cabinet and international meetings to the horror, shame and consternation of Zimbabweans."

The impeachment motion was introduced by the ruling party and seconded by the opposition MDC. It is not clear how long the process will take.

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4:50 p.m.

Bells have rung to summon Zimbabwe's Parliament members to gather for the next stage of the impeachment process for President Robert Mugabe.

Parliament is now forming a committee to investigate the allegations against Mugabe, including that he "allowed his wife to usurp constitutional power" and that he is "of advanced age" and no longer has the physical capacity to run the government.

The impeachment motion was introduced by the ruling party and seconded by the opposition MDC. It is not clear how long the process will take, though lawmakers have said Mugabe could be voted out as early as Wednesday or Thursday.

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3:45 p.m.

South Africa's state-run broadcaster reports that the presidents of South Africa and Angola will travel to Zimbabwe on Wednesday to meet with "stakeholders" in the political crisis, including President Robert Mugabe and the military.

Zimbabwe's Parliament has begun impeachment proceedings against Mugabe, who is accused of allowing his wife to "usurp" power and of being too old to rule.

It is not clear how long impeachment would take, though the ruling party has said it could vote Mugabe out as early as Wednesday.

South Africa, Angola and two other regional countries held a summit on the crisis Tuesday in Angola.

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3:30 p.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party has made a motion to impeach President Robert Mugabe and opposition party MDC has seconded it.

Now lawmakers from both houses of Parliament are relocating to a larger venue.

Mugabe is accused of allowing his wife to "usurp" power and of being too old to rule. He has been in charge since the end of white minority rule in 1980, but the military moved in last week after he fired his deputy and appeared to position his unpopular wife to succeed him.

It is not clear how long impeachment would take, though the ruling party has said it could vote Mugabe out as early as Wednesday.

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3:10 p.m.

Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai is telling a crowd outside Parliament that a "democratic Zimbabwe cannot be built by another un-democratic process."

Tsvangirai says the culture of the ruling party "must end" and everyone must put their heads together and work toward free and fair elections.

"Now the question is, how do we end Mugabe," says the opposition leader, who shared power with Mugabe as prime minister for a number of years.

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2:45 p.m.

Parliament has opened in Zimbabwe as the ruling party seeks to impeach President Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power.

Mugabe is accused of allowing his wife to "usurp" power and of being too old to rule.

Mugabe has been in charge since the end of white minority rule in 1980, but the military moved in last week after he fired his deputy and appeared to position his unpopular wife to succeed him.

Zimbabweans are rallying outside Parliament. It is not clear how long impeachment would take, though the ruling party has said it could vote Mugabe out as early as Wednesday.

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2:20 p.m.

Zimbabweans are rallying outside Parliament as the ruling party is poised to begin impeachment proceedings against President Robert Mugabe, who is accused of allowing his wife to "usurp" power and of being too old to rule.

"We are here because we want to be part of this very important occasion in the history of this country," says Harare resident Samuel Wadzai.

Lawmakers have begun arriving at Parliament.

Mugabe has been in power since the end of white minority rule in 1980, but the military moved in last week after he fired his deputy and appeared to position his unpopular wife to succeed him.

The pastor who last year led the country's largest anti-government protests in a decade, Evan Mawarire, tells the crowd that "our country was a shame and we were embarrassed by it. But today we declare that we love Zimbabwe."

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2 p.m.

Botswana's government has posted online what it calls an open letter from President Ian Khama urging Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to step down.

Khama has openly criticized his neighbour in the past. His letter posted on social media comes as Zimbabwe's ruling party is poised to begin impeachment proceedings against Mugabe.

The letter asks the world's oldest head of state to "be sensitive to the wishes of the people of Zimbabwe and to do the honourable thing by voluntarily relinquishing power."

Khama adds that Zimbabwe's people have been "subjected to untold suffering" under Mugabe, who has ruled for 37 years while the once-prosperous southern African nation's economy collapsed.

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12:50 p.m.

A Zimbabwean ruling party senior official says Cabinet ministers have snubbed a call by President Robert Mugabe to attend a meeting.

Lovemore Matuke says "all" ministers heeded a party directive to skip the Cabinet meeting and instead attend a party caucus to discuss impeaching Mugabe.

The party's Central Committee has voted to strip Mugabe of his party leadership post amid nationwide calls for the 93-year-old leader to resign. Mugabe, however, says he plans to preside over a ruling party congress next month.

The ruling party is poised to begin impeachment proceedings against Mugabe on Tuesday.

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10:25 a.m.

Four regional countries are meeting on Zimbabwe's political crisis.

South Africa's president is joining the Angola-hosted summit of the Southern African Development Community, along with the leaders of Zambia and Tanzania.

A committee of the regional bloc has recommended a full summit of all 16 members to discuss Zimbabwe, where longtime President Robert Mugabe faces impeachment after his firing of his deputy and positioning of the unpopular first lady to succeed him.

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9:45 a.m.

The Zimbabwe vice-president whose firing kicked off the country's political crisis says President Robert should heed the "clarion call" and resign immediately: "The people of Zimbabwe have clearly spoken."

The new statement from Emmerson Mnangagwa makes clear that he remains outside Zimbabwe after fleeing and won't return until his security is guaranteed.

Mnangagwa confirms that Mugabe has invited him to return "for a discussion" on the recent events. But "given the events that followed my dismissal I cannot trust my life in President Mugabe's hands."

He says his security was withdrawn upon his firing and he was informed that "plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested."

Mnangagwa says he is aware of the impeachment proceedings that start Tuesday against Mugabe and "I will not stand in the way of the people and my party."

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9:20 a.m.

A recently fired Zimbabwean vice-president and likely successor to President Robert Mugabe says the 93-year-old leader should resign immediately.

Emmerson Mnangagwa says in a statement Tuesday that he is not in Zimbabwe and that he would not return to the country until he is "satisfied of my personal security."

Mugabe fired Mnangagwa earlier this month, but Zimbabwe's ruling party is demanding that Mugabe resign and wants the former vice-president to replace him.

The ruling party is poised to begin impeachment proceedings against Mugabe on Tuesday as Parliament resumes, and it has instructed government ministers to boycott a Cabinet meeting Mugabe has called for Tuesday morning.

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9 a.m.

Zimbabwe's ruling party is set to begin impeachment proceedings against longtime President Robert Mugabe, while a party official says government ministers have been instructed to boycott a Cabinet meeting called by the president.

Ruling party chief whip Lovemore Matuke tells The Associated Press minutes before the Cabinet meeting is expected to start that ministers have been told to instead attend a meeting at party headquarters to work on the impeachment. Parliament resumes Tuesday.

Mugabe's chief secretary on Monday summoned ministers to the Cabinet meeting at State House, the president's official residence.

Mugabe is finding himself increasingly isolated.

The military on Monday night said the vice-president he recently fired, sparking the political turmoil, will return to Zimbabwe "shortly" and has made contact with Mugabe.

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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