Thousands took to the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, on Saturday to demonstrate against President Robert Mugabe, who remained under house arrest after a military takeover of the country earlier in the week.
Members of the crowd carried signs reading, “Mugabe must go!” and “Not coup but cool.”
Protesters were seen removing street signs bearing Mugabe’s likeness and stomping on them, as pressure builds for the 93-year-old longtime leader to step aside.
Despite his detention, Mugabe reportedly refuses to accept the military’s demand that he leave office. He has been allowed limited movement in the country while he negotiates his exit.
Nevertheless, many Zimbabweans have grown impatient, and are demanding that he be removed immediately.
Saturday’s demonstration at Harare’s Zimbabwe Grounds had the military’s approval. Soldiers guarding the State House, where Mugabe was being held, waved to marchers as they passed by. Some protestors even hugged soldiers, the BBC reported.
Zimbabwe Grounds is the same location where Zimbabweans gathered to cheer Mugabe’s return from exile in 1980 after the liberation war from white minority rule.
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Former education minister David Coltart spoke at the march organized by churches in Bulawayo city to urge Mugabe to resign.
“I never thought I would see the day as we marched past central police station without being arrested!” he said. “Amazing scenes.”
Coltart called for the restoration of civilian rule and free and fair elections.