Zimbabwe Latest: Mugabe Makes First Public Appearance
Robert Mugabe has attended a university graduation ceremony on the outskirts of Harare in his first public appearance since a takeover by the Zimbabwean military on Wednesday.
Clad in academic gown and hat, the 93-year-old walked slowly in a procession on a red carpet to a podium as a marching band played. He was applauded as he announced the opening of the ceremony.
His appearance followed an army statement, broadcast on national television and published by state-run media on Friday morning, that appears to have been aimed at quelling growing concerns that the military takeover could swiftly descend into chaos.
Mugabe has resisted pressure to step down and the army is facing growing calls to outline its plans for a new government.
The statement said the army had made significant progress and had “accounted for some of the criminals around [Mugabe] in order to bring them to justice since they were committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country while others are still at large”.
Since taking power, the military has arrested around a dozen senior officials and leading members of the G40, a faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party who are loyal to Grace Mugabe, the president’s wife.
The takeover is thought to have been prompted in part by fears among the military and its allies within the ruling party of an imminent purge of rivals of the first lady which would allow her to exercise greater power.