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Morgan Tsvangirai calls on Robert Mugabe to resign

President Robert Mugabe is insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler.

FILE: Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Picture: AFP.

HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday President Robert Mugabe should resign in the interest of the country after the military seized power.

Tsvangirai (65), who has been receiving cancer treatment in Britain and South Africa, returned to Harare late on Wednesday.

Mugabe is insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler and has balked at mediation by a Catholic priest to allow the 93-year-old former guerrilla a graceful exit after a military coup, sources said on Thursday.

“In the interest of the people, Mr Robert Mugabe must resign and step down immediately,” Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, told a news conference, reading from a statement.

A political source who spoke to senior allies holed up with Mugabe and his wife, Grace, in his lavish “Blue Roof” Harare compound said Mugabe had no plans to resign voluntarily ahead of elections scheduled for next year.

“It’s a sort of stand-off, a stalemate,” the source said. “They are insisting the president must finish his term.”

The army’s takeover signalled the collapse in less than 36 hours of the security, intelligence and patronage networks that sustained Mugabe through 37 years in power and built him into the “Grand Old Man” of African politics.

The priest, Fidelis Mukonori, who has been mediating between Mugabe and the generals who seized power on Wednesday in a targeted operation against “criminals” in his entourage, had also made little headway, a senior political source told Reuters.