Zimbabwe’s detained President Robert Mugabe is reportedly refusing to resign immediately, amid growing calls for him to step down.
Robert Mugabe, 93, was put under house arrest during a military takeover on November 15, after a power struggle over who would succeed him.
On November 17, the military said it was “engaging” with Robert Mugabe.
It also said it had been arresting “criminals” around the president but gave no names.
The army said it would advise the nation on the outcome of talks with Robert Mugabe “as soon as possible”.
It moved in after Robert Mugabe last week sacked VP Emmerson Mnangagwa, signaling that he favored First Lady Grace Mugabe to take over his Zanu-PF party and the presidency.
Pictures published by Zimbabwe Herald on November 16 showed President Mugabe meeting army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga and the two envoys from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) at State House in Harare.
Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest known to Robert Mugabe for years, who has been brought in to mediate.
Sources close to the talks say Robert Mugabe – who has been in control of Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980 – is refusing to stand down voluntarily before next year’s planned elections.
Some observers suggest that Robert Mugabe may be trying to seek guarantees of safety for himself and his family before stepping aside.
Zanu-PF officials had earlier suggested Robert Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Emmerson Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.
The African Union said it would not accept a military seizure of power and demanded a return to constitutional order.
South Africa’s defense minister and security minister are meeting Robert Mugabe on behalf of Sadc, which South Africa currently leads. They urged Zimbabwe to “settle the political challenges through peaceful means,” the AFP reported.
South Africa is hosting millions of Zimbabweans who fled after the country’s economy crashed in 2008. It has a special interest in seeing stability restored.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said it was “in the interests of the people” that Robert Mugabe “resign… immediately” as part of a negotiated “all-inclusive transitional mechanism”.
Another opposition leader, Tendai Biti, called for elections to be held.
Early reports suggested Grace Mugabe had fled to Namibia, but sources now say she is in the family compound in Harare, along with some of the youth wing of Zanu-PF who had backed her.