Euphoric crowds march on the streets of Harare, demanding the departure of President Robert Mugabe, Saturday Nov, 18, 2017. The military, which put Mugabe under house arrest this week, has approved the demonstration that includes people from across the political spectrum. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
HARARE, Zimbabwe — Giddy with joy and finally free to speak out, vast throngs of demonstrators turned Zimbabwe’s capital into a carnival ground on Saturday in a peaceful outpouring of disdain for President Robert Mugabe and calls for him to quit immediately. Still clinging to his now-powerless post, the longtime leader was scheduled on Sunday to discuss his expected exit with the military command that put him under house arrest.
People in Harare clambered onto tanks and other military vehicles moving slowly through the crowds, danced around soldiers walking in city streets and surged in the thousands toward the building where Mugabe held official functions, a symbol of the rule of the 93-year-old man who took power after independence from white minority rule in 1980. There, in a situation that could have become tense, the protesters instead showed deference to the small number of soldiers blocking their way and eventually dispersed.
It was a historic day when the old Zimbabwe, a once-promising African nation with a disintegrating economy and a mood of fear about the consequences of challenging Mugabe, became something new, with a population united, at least temporarily, in its fervor for change and a joyful openness that would have seemed fanciful even a few days ago.
The euphoria, however, will…