Zimbabwe latest: Defiant Mugabe makes first public appearance

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has made his first public appearance since the country’s army took over on Wednesday.

He attended a graduation ceremony in the capital, Harare.

Mr Mugabe had been under house arrest for days. The army made its move after a power struggle over his successor.

The military said on Friday it was “engaging” with Mr Mugabe and would advise the public on the outcome of talks “as soon as possible”.

Mr Mugabe’s attendance at the graduation is an annual tradition but few expected to see him there, the BBC’s Andrew Harding reports from Zimbabwe.

Mr Mugabe walked slowly up a red carpet and joined the crowd in singing the national anthem, then opened the graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe’s Open University, where he is chancellor.

One of the people he conferred a degree upon was Marry Chiwenga, the wife of the general who detained him on Wednesday, the state broadcaster reports.

Neither the 93-year-old president’s wife, Grace Mugabe, nor Education Minister Jonathan Moyo – an ally of hers whose house was reportedly raided by the military – were present.

The army acted after Mr Mugabe sacked Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.

Mr Mnangagwa was seen as a potential successor and his sacking paved the way for Grace Mugabe – who is four decades younger than him – to take over the presidency instead.

It was thought she had left the country but it emerged on Thursday that she was at home with Mr Mugabe.

What’s the reaction in the country?

Zimbabweans have been posting on Facebook and Twitter that there has been no dramatic effect on normal life.

People say that shops have opened as normal but there are few people on the streets of the capital.

Some Zimbabweans spoken to by the BBC have welcomed the news, with one man expressing his thanks to the army for “taking out the tyrant”.

What has the reaction been across Africa?

  • Botswana’s President Ian Khama told Reuters news agency that regional leaders did not support Mr Mugabe staying in power, adding: “We are presidents, we are not monarchs”
  • Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari called for calm and “respect for the constitution”, and said that every attempt should be made to save the country from “political instability”
  • The African Union, a key regional bloc, said the takeover “seems like a coup” and demanded a return to constitutional order

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