HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - Zimbabweâ€™s ruling party assured Robert Mugabe that he wouldnâ€™t be prosecuted if he resigned, a party official said Thursday, as the fate of the 93-year-old became clearer and the country prepared to move on.
â€śProsecuting him was never part of the plan,â€ť ZANU-PF chief whip Lovemore Matuke told The Associated Press. â€śHe is safe, his family is safe and his status as a hero of his country is assured. All we were saying is resign or face impeachment.â€ť
As Zimbabwe prepared to witness the swearing-in of new president Emmerson Mnangagwa on Friday morning, its citizens circulated on social media a new photo showing what appeared to be Mugabe at the end of his 37-year rule.
Mugabe and his wife are shown sitting on a sofa with advisers standing behind them. A dejected-looking Grace Mugabe, who just days ago had been poised to replace Mnangagwa after his firing as vice president and even succeed her husband, looks off camera. A listing Robert Mugabeâ€™s eyes are closed. The photo could not immediately be verified.
Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday as lawmakers began impeaching him, has not spoken publicly since his stunning speech on Sunday defying calls from the military, ruling party and the people to step down.
But it appears he and his wife will remain in the capital, Harare.
According to protocol, Mugabe could even be present at the 75-year-old Mnangagwaâ€™s swearing-in on Friday morning at a 60,000-seat stadium after making a triumphant return to the country. He fled shortly after his firing, claiming threats to his life.
Mnangagwaâ€™s speech upon his return Wednesday night outside ruling party headquarters promised â€śa new, unfolding democracyâ€ť and efforts to rebuild a shattered economy. But he also recited slogans from the ruling ZANU-PF party, unlikely to reassure the opposition.