Pressure grows on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to quit amid Harare rally

The military say their operation "remains solid" and urged people to be patient

Pressure grows on Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe to quit amid Harare rally

People gather to demonstrate for the ouster of 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe | Image: Ben Curtis/AP/Press Association Images

Pressure is growing on deposed president Robert Mugabe, as Zimbabweans prepare to take to the streets and call for their country's leader to resign.

Zimbabwe's military has said it supports a rally due to be held in the capital Harare on Saturday, organised by veterans of the country's independence war and long-standing opponents of Mugabe.

"We can't have a 93-year-old person ruling more than 15 million people," a poster circulating around the city said.

Mr Mugabe is under house arrest after generals seized power, with the military holding talks with him on the "way forward".

In a statement read out on state-run television, the military said their operation "remains solid" and urged Zimbabweans to remain patient.

Mr Mugabe, who stoked anger with the sacking of his vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, also appears to be losing the support of his party after 37 years in office.

Eight of the 10 regional branches of his ruling ZANU-PF party have called for him to resign, according to state TV.

"The province resolved unanimously to recall the president ... from being the president of the party and the government," said Cornelius Mupereri, a spokesman for the party's Midlands region.

A military officer adjusts the chair for Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, centre-right, to sit after arriving to preside over a student graduation ceremony at Zimbabwe Open University | Image: Ben Curtis/AP/Press Association Images

Mr Mupereri was one of a number of branch officials to appear on the nightly news to call for Mr Mugabe to go, a development that appeared to be part of a coordinated effort to push him out as they read almost identical statements.

According to Zimbabwe's war veterans' association, Mr Mugabe has asked for "a few more days, a few more months".

He made his first public appearance since the apparent coup earlier on Friday, turning up at a graduation ceremony at the University of Zimbabwe.

Wearing an academic gown and mortar board, he was cheered by the crowd as he opened the ceremony.

The catalyst for the move against Mr Mugabe was the removal of his vice president, who was believed to be the military's preferred candidate to replace Mr Mugabe if he died or resigned.

This cleared the way for first lady Grace Mugabe - 41 years Mr Mugabe's junior - to succeed her husband, a prospect that is thought to have angered many top military officers.