, Harare, Zimbabwe, Nov 20 – Here is a timeline of the political crisis in Zimbabwe where veteran President Robert Mugabe resigned on Tuesday following a military takeover and unprecedented mass protests demanding he step down.
– Army takes control –
– November 14: Tanks are seen moving on the outskirts of the capital Harare a day after army chief Constantino Chiwenga denounces Mugabe’s sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa on November 6.
Mnangagwa was seen as the chief rival of Mugabe’s wife Grace, 52, to succeed the veteran leader.
Later, heavy gunfire is heard near Mugabe’s residence in Harare.
– Mugabe under house arrest –
– November 15: By the early hours, military vehicles are on the capital’s streets, but the army denies staging a coup, giving a televised address saying the 93-year-old is safe and that they are “only targeting criminals around him”.
South Africa says Mugabe has told its president, Jacob Zuma, by telephone that he is under house arrest but is “fine”.
The European Union and former colonial power Britain urge a peaceful resolution of the crisis while South Africa warns against any “unconstitutional changes” of government.
– Mugabe refuses to resign –
– November 16: Mugabe refuses to step down during talks with generals, a source close to the army leadership says in a move which enrages many Zimbabweans who see it as a bid to “buy time” to negotiate a favourable end to his 37-year reign.
A day later he appears at a university graduation ceremony, acting as if nothing has happened.
– Opposition grows –
– November 17: Eight out of the 10 branches of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF taking to state television to demand he stand down, in a call echoed by the influential war veterans association, which urges people to join huge street protests at the weekend.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the people of Zimbabwe must choose their own government through elections.
– Mass protests –
– November 18: Tens of thousands of people flood Zimbabwe’s streets demanding Mugabe’s resignation in a joyful celebration of his apparently imminent demise.
The display of open defiance would have been unthinkable just a week earlier.
– Mugabe hangs on –
– November 19: ZANU-PF sacks Mugabe as leader and demands he resign as head of state. It also expels his wife Grace and names the ousted Mnangagwa as the new party chief.
The ruling party also says Mugabe must resign as president by midday Monday, or face impeachment.
But in a live televised address, Mugabe defies expectations he will resign, instead saying he will preside over ZANU-PF’s congress in December.
– Parliament starts impeachment –
– November 21: After the deadline passes without Mugabe resigning, Zimbabwe’s parliament gathers to start the impeachment process, with lawmakers from across the spectrum calling on the president to quit.
Mnangagwa, the country’s likely next president, calls for Mugabe to stand down in his first intervention since the army takeover, saying he should “heed this clarion call” so the country can move forward.
– Mugabe resigns –
As MPs gather for a special joint session of parliament, speaker Jacob Mudenda reads out a letter from Mugabe resigning as president after a 37-year rule with immediate effect.
The bombshell announcement sparks scenes of wild celebration in the streets of Harare, with car horns honking and crowds dancing and cheering over the departure of the autocrat who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence.
– Ousted VP returns –
– November 22: Mnangagwa, a former close Mugabe ally who is dubbed “the crocodile” for his ruthlessness, is to fly home from South Africa where he fled after his sacking, with state media saying he will be sworn in as president on Friday.