The Latest: African Union backs regional efforts in Zimbabwe
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on Zimbabwe’s political turmoil (all times local):
The head of the African Union Commission is backing efforts by the Southern African Development Community to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Moussa Faki Mahamat tells The Associated Press that the AU is working with the regional group. He says he believes a solution will be found that’s within “constitutional legality.”
The AU leader isn’t saying explicitly whether what happened in Zimbabwe was a coup. He says through a translator that there are “divergent views” within Zimbabwe’s ruling party.
But he says the AU condemns all unconstitutional changes in government. He says the union rejects any coups, rebellions or mercenary actions to overthrow a democratically elected government.
Cabinet ministers from four countries in the 15-nation SADC have called for an emergency summit to discuss the turmoil in Zimbabwe. It is widely seen as essential to giving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dignified exit from power after the military stepped in this week.
A newly created Twitter account that claimed to be Zimbabwe’s recently sacked vice president — and its incoming leader — has been suspended.
The account @presmnangagwa claimed to represent Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose firing as vice president last week led the military to move in and put President Robert Mugabe under house arrest.
The Twitter account issued a stream of “updates” on the crisis but was quickly questioned by skeptical Zimbabweans, who are no strangers to rumor and speculation.
Links to the account Thursday night lead to a page saying “account suspended.” There was no specific explanation for the move, though Twitter says common reasons include spam or abusive behavior.
The spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general says Antonio Guterres welcomes the efforts of the southern African regional bloc to “facilitate a peaceful solution to the situation” in Zimbabwe.
The spokesman says the U.N. chief is in contact with regional leaders and calls for continued calm.
Cabinet ministers from four countries in the 15-nation Southern African Development Community have called for an emergency summit to discuss the political turmoil in Zimbabwe. It is widely seen as essential to giving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dignified exit from power after the military stepped in this week.
Cabinet ministers from four countries in southern Africa’s regional bloc have called for an emergency summit to discuss the political turmoil in Zimbabwe, according to South Africa’s eNCA television station.
The meeting of the heads of state of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community is widely seen as essential to giving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a dignified exit from power.
The call for the summit was made by the bloc’s special committee on regional politics. The meeting in Botswana was attended by Cabinet ministers from Angola, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa. The ministers did not say when the summit would take place.
Zimbabwe’s state-run newspaper has published what it calls new photos of President Robert Mugabe meeting with army commander Constantino Chiwenga as talks continue on a resolution to the political turmoil and the likely end to Mugabe’s decades-long rule.
The photos published by the Zimbabwe Herald show Mugabe and the army commander meeting at the state house.
Chiwenga on Monday threatened to “step in” to calm tensions after Mugabe last week fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who enjoys military support. Mugabe had been under house arrest since the military moved in overnight Tuesday.
South African broadcaster eNCA says it has confirmed that Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe is meeting with a South African delegation at the state house.
Witnesses have confirmed seeing the Mugabe motorcade moving through the capital, Harare.
The talks are trying to find a solution to the political turmoil and the likely end of Mugabe’s decades-long rule. Participants in the talks with the military are said to include the Catholic church.
Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says President Robert Mugabe must resign. He calls for a negotiated, inclusive transitional mechanism as well as comprehensive reforms before elections.
Tsvangirai is telling reporters in Zimbabwe’s capital that a post-election framework is needed to guarantee stability and that the southern African regional bloc and the African Union should be “underwriters” of it.
He also says he hasn’t been approached to be part of any transitional mechanism but “if we are approached to negotiate such a process we will participate.”
Tsvangirai shared power with Mugabe between 2009 and 2013 before losing disputed elections. He has been receiving treatment for cancer.
An analyst says he believes negotiations in Zimbabwe “have pretty much reached an end point” to get President Robert Mugabe to step aside.
Knox Chitiyo, associate fellow with the Africa program at Chatham House, cautions that speculation remains high but it appears that the Catholic church is involved in the talks with the military and Mugabe.
He says the aim is a peaceful, managed transition. “What is clear, it is now a matter of hours or days before he steps down.” Witnesses have confirmed the movement of Mugabe’s motorcade in the capital.
Chitiyo says the military has wanted a dignified exit for Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
He says he doesn’t know where the ailing, 93-year-old Mugabe would go but that the destination is “likely driven by his health.”
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says it is suspending visa operations this week because of limited staffing amid the country’s political turmoil.
An embassy statement on Thursday says it hopes to return to normal operations next week.
The embassy also has urged U.S. citizens to “limit unnecessary movements” in the capital, Harare.
South Africa’s president says it would be too early to take any “firm decision” on in Zimbabwe and that the political situation “very shortly will be becoming clear.”
President Jacob Zuma has told Parliament he doesn’t want to speculate on Zimbabwe, where longtime President Robert Mugabe is in military custody amid calls for him to step aside after decades in power.
Zuma calls for a peaceful resolution to the “ongoing” developments.
Witnesses are confirming the sighting of the motorcade of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe moving through the capital, Harare.
They say a helicopter was hovering at the same time the motorcade was sighted. It was not immediately clear where the motorcade was going.
Mugabe has been in military custody. Zimbabweans are seizing on the political limbo to urge the president to peacefully step aside after decades in power.
A Zimbabwean vice president who was fired in 2014 is calling for “free, fair and credible elections” following a transition arrangement that draws from a range of communities.
Joice Mujuru, who was fired by President Robert Mugabe and accused of plotting to take power, told reporters Thursday that peace can be realized only “through maximum restraint.”
She says she is heartened by assurances given so far that condemn violence and encourage peace. She is calling for an election “in reasonable time” monitored by regional and international institutions under the eye of the United Nations.
The Zimbabwean pastor whose social media campaign led to the largest anti-government protests in a decade is calling on citizens to “stand up for peace.”
Evan Mawarire, who founded the #ThisFlag movement, asks: “Should we just sit and wait or shall we at least be part of this transition process?” He urges that citizens not wait for regional leaders to broker the next phase.
Members of the opposition, civil society and religious groups are calling for calm and respect for rights as quiet talks continue to resolve the crisis and likely put an end to President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule.
More than 100 civil society groups have issued a statement urging Mugabe to peacefully step aside.
The U.S. Embassy is advising citizens in Zimbabwe to “limit unnecessary movements” as the country’s political uncertainty continues.
The British government also is urging its citizens in the capital, Harare, to avoid large gatherings and any demonstrations.
The military remains in the streets of the capital.
Amid the political limbo, Zimbabweans are enjoying freedoms they haven’t had in years. The shift to military control has brought a kind of fresh air.
For once, Zimbabweans don’t have to contend with bribe-seeking police officers who mounted roadblocks every few miles (kilometers).
Soldiers manning the few checkpoints on roads leading into downtown Harare are greeting motorists with a smile, searching cars without hostilities and wishing motorists a safe journey.
Street vendors who endured police raids after Mugabe ordered their removal are working without hassles.
Human rights groups are urging respect for rights as uncertainty remains.
Regional officials are meeting on the Zimbabwe political crisis. Ministers with the Southern African Development Community are in Botswana for the meeting chaired by South Africa and Angola.
Their recommendations will be given to heads of state and government.
In addition, South Africa President Jacob Zuma will answer questions in Parliament on Thursday on a range of issues that almost certainly will include the uncertainty in neighboring Zimbabwe. Zuma said Wednesday he had spoken with Mugabe, who was “fine” but confined to his home.
Zimbabwe opposition leader and former finance minister Tendai Biti’s party is calling for a transitional authority to take over.
The party says in a statement Thursday that the transitional authority should be “made up of competent Zimbabweans whose mandate will be to put in place measures to turn around the economy” and build a better society for all.
Quiet talks continue in Zimbabwe to resolve the country’s political turmoil and the likely end of President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule.
Mugabe has been in military custody. Regional officials are meeting in Botawana on the crisis.
People across Zimbabwe are starting another day of uncertainty amid quiet talks to resolve the country’s political turmoil and the likely end of President Robert Mugabe’s decades-long rule.
Mugabe has been in military custody and there is no sign of the recently fired deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country last week.
The military remains in the streets of the capital, Harare, as the mood is tense.
Regional officials are meeting on the crisis as civil society groups and churches in Zimbabwe issue appeals for calm.
A joint statement by more than 100 civil society groups urges Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, to peacefully step aside and asks the military to quickly restore order and respect the constitution.
Trade unions have urged workers to go about their business.