Zimbabwe’s political drama: What just happened? A timeline
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe is poised to swear in new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday morning, just two and a half weeks after his firing by longtime President Robert Mugabe. The world’s oldest head of state resigned this week after the military and ruling party turned on him and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets. Here’s a timeline of events in a whirlwind drama many people after Mugabe’s 37 years in power never thought they’d see:
Nov. 6: After a campaign of public insults against Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe fires his longtime deputy, later accusing him of plotting to take power via witchcraft. Mnangagwa flees the country.
Nov 13: Army commander Constantino Chiwenga issues a rare public rebuke, saying the military won’t hesitate to “step in” to calm political tensions and criticizing the handling of the once-prosperous southern African nation’s crumbling economy.
Nov. 14: Armored personnel carriers are seen on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. The military moves in overnight, taking control of the state-run broadcaster.
Nov. 15: The military announces that Mugabe is under house arrest and an operation has begun to arrest “criminals” around him who harmed the economy. Unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe, who many feared would replace Mnangagwa and even succeed her husband, disappears from view.
Nov. 16: State-run media publish extraordinary photos of a smiling Mugabe shaking hands with the army commander at the State House amid negotiations on the president’s exit as the military tries to avoid accusations of a coup.
Nov. 17: The army, which continues to refer to Mugabe as president, allows him to make his first public appearance since house arrest. He appears at a graduation ceremony to polite applause.
Nov. 18: The bulk of the capital’s roughly 1.6 million people pour into the streets in an anti-Mugabe demonstration that even days ago would have brought a police crackdown.
Nov. 19: The ruling party Central Committee expels Mugabe as party leader and tells him to step aside or face impeachment. In a speech on national television, he does not announce his resignation as expected.
Nov. 20: The ruling party’s Central Committee says it will begin impeachment proceedings. The military says Mugabe and Mnangagwa have made contact and the fired deputy will return to Zimbabwe “shortly.”
Nov. 21: Mnangagwa calls on Mugabe to heed the will of Zimbabwe’s people and resign immediately. The ruling party begins impeachment proceedings, which are halted so Mugabe’s resignation letter can be read, to cheers.
Nov. 22: Mnangagwa emerges from hiding, returns to Zimbabwe and announces a “new and unfolding democracy.”
Nov. 23: A ruling party official says the party assured Mugabe he would not be prosecuted if he stepped down: “His status as a hero of his country is assured.”