Thousands of Zimbabweans marched through the capital on Saturday demanding that President Robert Mugabe step down, days after the military placed the longtime ruler under house arrest.
Euphoric crowds gathered near the State House where Zimbabweans cheered, danced, waved flags and hugged soldiers who were stationed outside the government building in Harare. Some marchers carried posters and signs, including ones that said, “Enough is enough Mugabe must go” and “Mugabe out.”
“It’s like Christmas,” one marcher, Fred Mubay, told The Associated Press.
It was the first public demonstration since Zimbabwe’s military apparently took charge earlier in the week, and one that would have been perhaps unthinkable just months ago.
“This is the biggest day in the history of Zimbabwe,” another resident, Trust Chuma, told The Associated Press.
The first signs of a military takeover emerged Tuesday as armored vehicles were deployed near the capital, one week after Mugabe fired his deputy and longtime ally, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and accused him of scheming to take power, including through witchcraft.
An established Zimbabwean journalist who spoke to ABC News on condition of anonymity said members of the military marched inside the state broadcaster’s headquarters on Tuesday and told employees there to not be afraid, that “we are here to protect you” and that they should continue their work as usual.
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe issued an advisory Tuesday night, urging all employees to stay home the following day and warning American citizens in the southern African nation to shelter in place “as a result of the ongoing political uncertainty.”