Top leaders of Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu-PF are calling on President Robert Mugabe to step down, as pressure on him intensifies following a military intervention and protests.
Senior party officials have started arriving for a meeting of Zanu-PF in which they will discuss whether to dismiss Robert Mugabe.
The party’s Youth League, previously loyal to the long-term president, has turned against him.
Military leaders are also set to meet President Mugabe.
According state TV, mediation will be led by a Catholic priest.
In a statement, the Zanu-PF Youth League condemned Robert Mugabe’s allies for “looting and plundering” and his wife Grace for “vulgar, cunning and unruly behavior”, and called on him to stand down and to “rest as an elder statesman”.
Nine of ten Zanu-PF party chapters say Robert Mugabe should step down and their decision is likely to be endorsed at November 19 meeting of the party’s top body, the central committee.
The head of the influential War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, predicted to Reuters before the meeting that President Mugabe would be removed from the party leadership, and his wife would lose her position as head of its women’s league.
He then threatened to “bring back the crowds and they will do their business” if Robert Mugabe did not step down.
The 93-year-old president has largely been confined to his house since the army took over on November 15.
The army took control of the country after President Mugabe fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal made Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace front runner to become next president. He is likely to be reinstated as vice-president when Zanu-PF convene.
Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, including people from the ruling party and the opposition, took to the streets on November 18 to celebrate the army’s takeover and to urge Robert Mugabe to quit.
They tore up pictures of the president and marched to his office and residence.
President Robert Mugabe may face impeachment in parliament next week if he refuses to step down.