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  1. ITV Report

Thousands of Zimbabweans gather in Harare to demand Robert Mugabe departure

Thousands of Zimbabweans have gathered in Harare and Bulawayo demanding the departure of Robert Mugabe.

Demonstrators assembled across the capital on Saturday, calling for Mugabe to relinquish power after nearly four decades.

The protests came as a former Zimbabwean cabinet minister said the ruling ZANU-PF party will recall Mr Mugabe "as early as tomorrow [Sunday]".

Former war veterans minister Tshinga Dube said: "We are just going to properly send the old man away as early as tomorrow or so."

Provincial branches of the ruling party have passed no-confidence votes in the President and called for the Central Committee to meet on Sunday and recall him as party leader. They also want first lady Grace Mugabe recalled as head of the women's league.

Zimbabwe's state-run broadcaster reported that Mr Mugabe will meet with the army commander who put him under house arrest on Sunday.

It will be the pair's second meeting as talks continue on the President's future.

Protesters gathered outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in London in support of the ousting of Mr Mugabe. Credit: PA

Mr Mugabe appeared in public on Friday for the first time since he was placed under house arrest by the military in midweek, but it is thought he may be resisting calls to step down.

Negotiations between Mr Mugabe, ZANU-PF party and opposition figures are continuing at State House, a government building where official functions are held.

State television broadcast the demonstrations live as people marched to the government State House.

Hundreds of people peacefully descended on the government building, with the army blocking off entrances.

ITV News Africa Correspondent John Ray described the protests, which have in the past been beaten down, as "unprecedented", adding that Mr Mugabe's nephew had insisted that his uncle was "ready to die for what is correct" and the embattled 93-year-old has no intention of stepping down.

He continued that when a presidential motorcade left Mr Mugabe's home in Harare it was booed by demonstrators, although it was not clear if Mr Mugabe was in the car or not.

Ray added that he believes protesters in Zimbabwe will now not settle for simply the replacement of Mr Mugabe, but will also want the institution that has supported him to go as well.

He continued that the effects of the army's takeover of power have been further-reaching than even they first expected.

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Many protesters took to the streets of Harare with banners demanding Mugabe's resignation.

Many of those included messages such as "Mugabe must go".

One protester told ITV News: "We have waited 37 long years for this moment.

"I can barely believe it is happening. But at last the old man is leaving.

"It can't happen too soon."

John Ray said that expectation in the capital was "high" that "the rule of Mugabe is drawing to a close".

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Representatives of the ZANU-PF party have signaled impatience with Mugabe over the ongoing negotiations around his exit.

Negotiations appear to have been going on for a number of days.

Party branches have passed no-confidence votes in all 10 Zimbabwean provinces, and the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper said all called for the resignation of Mugabe and his wife Grace.

They have sought a special meeting within two days of the party's Central Committee.

Mugabe has been in power for nearly four decades. Credit: AP

Zimbabwe's military moved to detain Mugabe after the president sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mugabe had accused Mr Mnangagwa of plotting to take power.

The move made deeply unpopular Grace Mugabe heir-apparent and came after months of in-fighting in Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

In a statement on Friday, the military said it was "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".