Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has refused to cede power to the military which has seized power in the southern African country and put him under house arrest.
Generals met with Mugabe on Thursday in the capital, Harare, and made efforts to push the 93-year-old veteran to resign, sources confirmed to the AFP news agency.
Mugabe’s motorcade reportedly took the president from his home to State House to hold a meeting with the generals.
The president also held meetings with envoys from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc.
Images of the meeting showed Mugabe dressed in a navy blue blazer and grey trousers standing alongside army chief General Constantino Chiwenga who smiled and was dressed in camouflage military fatigues.
Military forces took control of Harare on Wednesday, with soldiers and armored vehicles blocking roads to the main government offices, the parliament, and the courts in central Harare.
Mugabe has been in power for almost four decades, since the former British colony gained independence from the UK in 1980.
To many Zimbabweans, he is a “war hero” and an “African icon” who played a definitive role in making the country independent.
However, his deteriorating health in recent years has triggered a succession war between his wife Grace and Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The military generals are strongly opposed to Grace’s presidency, while Mnangagwa has maintained cordial ties with the military.
On Thursday, the African Union expressed concern, calling on Zimbabwe’s military to halt what “seems like a coup”.
AU chief, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, warned that the continent “will never accept the military coup d’etat” in Zimbabwe and called for a return to the “constitutional order.”
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres also called for “calm and non-violence” and for the fundamental rights of Zimbabwean citizens to be preserved, a spokesman for the UN chief said.
In Harare, residents continued life as normal on Thursday, commuting, socializing and working as they ignored the few soldiers still on the streets.
The state-owned Herald newspaper in its editorial took a neutral stand by remaining loyal to Mugabe but also endorsing the military’s action.