Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu-PF on Sunday sacked President Robert Mugabe as its leader and appointed his former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the new leader, the BBC reported.
Mugabe’s sacking of Mnangagwa as Vice President two weeks ago had prompted an extraordinary chain of events as the military intervened to block the 93-year-old President from installing his wife Grace in his place.
The President was due on Sunday to meet the Army commanders who took power last week, a statement broadcast by the state-run TV channel said.
The face-to-face encounter is only the second since the military takeover five days ago. Parliament is expected to start impeachment proceedings next week.
Sources close to the military quoted by the Guardian said the President had asked a Catholic priest and lifelong friend to act as an intermediary in talks with generals.
Mugabe had previously rejected similar offers of mediation, suggesting that he was close to making a significant concession.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans attended street protests on Saturday to demonstrate against the Mugabes.
The first lady has been expelled from the party altogether.
The BBC reported that cheering erupted as the decision to sack Mugabe was announced although the move has yet to be formalised.
But it increases further the pressure on Mugabe that has been building over the past few days. There were now moves to impeach him as President.
The head of the influential War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, threatened to “bring back the crowds and they will do their business” if Mugabe did not step down. Mugabe has been President of Zimbabwe for 37 long years.
Mugabe’s downfall is likely to send shockwaves across Africa, where a number of entrenched autocratic leaders, from Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila, are facing pressure to step aside.