Mugabe makes first public appearance since military takeover

Update 9.49am: Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe has appeared in public for the first time since a military takeover at a university graduation ceremony.

Clad in academic gown and hat, Mr Mugabe walked slowly in a procession on a red carpet to a podium as a marching band played.

Several thousand graduates of the Zimbabwe Open University and guests stood as Mr Mugabe and other dignitaries entered a tent set up for the event.

Once on the podium, Mr Mugabe joined the crowd in singing Zimbabwe's national anthem.

He announced the opening of the graduation ceremony, and the crowd applauded.

Mr Mugabe's presidential security detail was present at the event on the outskirts of Harare.

Earlier: Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has been speaking with the country’s military chief - the day after the army seized power.

It is reported the 93-year-old insists he remains the country’s only legitimate ruler and is refusing to quit.

Zimbabwe’s military is continuing talks for his departure while it pursues those who were close to the leader and his wife.

Zimbabwe state media reported this morning a military statement saying talks with Mugabe "on the way forward" are ongoing.

The Zimbabwe Defence Forces said "significant progress has been made in their operation to weed out criminals around President Mugabe," adding that they had arrested some although others were still at large.

The statement said Zimbabwe’s military is "currently engaging with the Commander-in-Chief President Robert Mugabe on the way forward and will advise the nation of the outcome as soon as possible".

The state Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation television aired a similar report in its early morning bulletin.

Zimbabwe’s former finance minister, Tendai Biti, has said that Mr Mugabe does not deserve to carry on.

"89% of our people are living in extreme poverty. 95% of our people are unemployed," Mr Biti said.

"So I think if I were President Mugabe it’s time to give the people of Zimbabwe a chance so that they can start fresh."


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