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Zimbabwe ruling party meets to seal Robert Mugabe’s fall from grace

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In an open space that Zimbabwe’s ruling party has called Robert Mugabe Square, delegates gathered Friday to seal the fate of a man they had revered for decades but removed from power in dramatic scenes last month.

Emmerson Mnangagwa has already been inaugurated as the new president and party leader, replacing Mugabe, who had led the party since 1975 and the country since independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Friday’s ZANU-PF party meeting is the final step in Mugabe’s fall from grace after the military put him under house arrest, hundreds of thousands rallied in the streets and lawmakers began impeachment proceedings. Under the growing pressure, the 93-year-old who had vowed to rule for life finally resigned.

The decision to remove Mugabe as party leader was made by the Central Committee, and “it is a foregone conclusion delegates will ratify,” party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo said.

Images of Mugabe’s face, usually plastered on delegates’ dress and other paraphernalia, were conspicuously missing, as was Mugabe himself. He flew to Malaysia and Singapore earlier this week to visit family and seek medical treatment in his first overseas trip since last month’s events.

Mnangagwa at his inauguration described Mugabe as a “father, comrade-in-arms and my leader,” even though his firing by Mugabe as vice president early last month set the events in motion amid concerns that unpopular first lady Grace Mugabe might succeed him.

Mugabe’s time was up the moment he surrendered power to his wife, some party delegates said.

The ruling party also was expected to endorse the 75-year-old Mnangagwa as party leader and its presidential candidate for next year’s elections, Moyo said.

Now Mnangagwa must find a way out of his longtime mentor’s shadow, revive the severely weakened economy and win over voters ahead of elections.

On Thursday, he called for longtime sanctions to be lifted to ease foreign investment and promised measures to make the once-prosperous southern African nation “a place where capital feels safe.”

The opposition, shut out of Mnangagwa’s Cabinet in favor of military and ruling party members, has joined the United States and others in the international community in urging Zimbabwe’s new government to make sure next year’s elections are democratic.

Mnangagwa, sanctioned by the U.S. years ago for his activities as a top Mugabe aide, has said the government will do all in its power to make sure the elections are “credible, free and fair.”

24 Hours Across Africa

Ten and thousands of Hong Kong protesters flood city streets in largest rally in weeks

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Source: AFP- A sea of democracy activists flooded the streets of Hong Kong Sunday in a defiant show to the city’s leaders that their movement still pulls wide public support, despite mounting violence and increasingly stark warnings from Beijing.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters carrying umbrellas poured across the heart of Hong Kong island defying torrential rain and a police order not to march from a park where they had gathered earlier for a rally.

Weeks of demonstrations have plunged the financial hub into crisis, with images of masked black-clad protesters engulfed by tear gas during street battles against riot police stunning a city once renowned for its stability.

Sunday’s action, which organisers the Civil Human Rights Front said drew more than 1.7 million in the largest rally in weeks, was billed as a return to the “peaceful” origins of the leaderless protest movement.


“It’s been a long day and we’re very tired, but to see so many people out in the rain marching for Hong Kong gives strength to everyone,” said Danny Tam, a 28-year-old graphic designer.

The unprecedented political crisis was sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the Chinese mainland.

But protests have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Anger has been sharpened among protesters by the perceived heavy-handedness of the police who have used tear gas, baton charges and rubber bullets in incidents that have pinballed across social media.

“The police are doing things that are totally unacceptable,” said Yim, who like many of the protesters gave only one name.

“They are hurting citizens, they aren’t protecting us.”

AFP / Manan VATSYAYANATorrential rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of protesters in Hong Kong

Communist Party-ruled mainland China has taken an increasingly hardline tone towards the protesters, decrying the “terrorist-like” actions of a violent hardcore minority among the demonstrators.

Despite the near-nightly clashes with police, the movement has won few concessions from Beijing or the city’s unelected leadership.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Hong Kong Activities face crucial weekend test after airport setback

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Source: AFP- Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement faces a major test this weekend as it tries to muster another huge crowd following criticism over a recent violent airport protest and as concerns mount over Beijing’s next move.

Ten weeks of protests have plunged the international finance hub into crisis with the communist mainland taking an increasingly hardline tone, including labelling the more violent protester actions “terrorist-like”.

Chinese state media have put out images of military personnel and armoured personnel carriers across the border in Shenzhen, while the United States has warned Beijing against sending in troops, a move many analysts say would be a reputational and economic disaster for China.

The nationalistic Global Times newspaper said there would not be a repeat of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, in which hundreds — or even thousands — are believed to have been killed, if Beijing moves to quash the protests.

“The incident in Hong Kong won’t be a repeat of the June 4th political incident in 1989,” it said, insisting the country now had more sophisticated approaches.

It was a rare reference to the bloody events, which are taboo in China.

Hong Kong’s protests were sparked by opposition to a plan to allow extraditions to the mainland, but have since morphed into a wider call for democratic rights in the semi-autonomous city.

Millions of people have hit the streets while clashes have broken out between police and small groups of hardcore protesters for 10 consecutive weekends.

For most of that time, US President Donald Trump has taken a hands-off approach to the unrest but began speaking up this week, suggesting any potential trade deal with Beijing could be upended by a violent response from the mainland.

Speaking on Thursday, Trump urged his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to meet protesters and solve the crisis “humanely”.

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