Eight of the 10 regional branches of Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party have joined calls for President Robert Mugabe to step down three days after the military seized power in the African country, state TV says.
“The province resolved unanimously to recall the president… from being the president of the party and the government,” said Cornelius Mupereri, a spokesman for the party’s Midlands region, on Friday.
Mupereri was one of several branch officials to appear on Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s nightly news, calling on the 93-year-old leader to resign in what seems to be a coordinated effort, with the officials reading similar statements.
Mugabe has been in power for almost four decades, since the former British colony gained independence from the UK in 1980. Opposition groups and Mugabe’s former allies have already urged him to quit.
As well as the growing vocal opposition from within his own party, Mugabe will face street protest rallies in the capital Harare on Saturday organized by veterans of the country’s independence war and backed by his long-standing opponents. The army has already said that it fully supports “a solidarity march against Mugabe.”
On Wednesday, Zimbabwe’s military forces seized power in the country, after soldiers and armored vehicles began blocking roads to the main government offices, the parliament, and the courts in central Harare. The African Union’s leader, Alpha Conde, has already described the move as a “coup.”
Mugabe and his military forces, who had long helped him stay in power, have recently been at odds over his successor. The power clash has culminated in the sacking of the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The military, which insists it is only going after “criminals” and is not planning to take power, has also detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, a leading member of the so-called ‘G40’ faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, run by the president’s wife, Grace Mugabe.
Mugabe and his wife have been on the European Union’s sanctions list along with other key figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling elite, facing travel bans and asset freezes abroad.