Robert Mugabe just fell asleep in his first public appearance since the Zimbabwe military coup

Robert mugabe sleepingAl JazeeraRobert Mugabe takes a moment at a Zimbabwe Open University graduation ceremony.
  • Robert Mugabe appeared in public for the first time since Zimbabwe’s military coup.
  • The 93-year-old president was spotted sleeping at a graduation ceremony in Harare.
  • Zimbabwe’s military seized control of the country and placed Mugabe under house arrest earlier this week.
  • Mugabe has refused to step down.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe fell asleep at a graduation ceremony in his first public appearance since the country’s military coup this week.

The 93-year-old president appeared at the graduation ceremony of the Zimbabwe Open University in Harare on Friday after being placed under house arrest.

Al Jazeera aired live footage of the president in a cap and gown, seated in front of a microphone. He appeared to be fast asleep. His eyes were firmly closed for some time and his head lolled in slumber.

According to the Qatari broadcaster, Mugabe attended the ceremony surrounded by security personnel, gave a speech, and was cheered by a crowd of supporters before falling asleep in his chair. His wife, Grace, did not attend the event, Al Jazeera said.

Mugabe’s appearance comes after a week of political turmoil in the country. The Zimbabwean military took over the country’s state broadcaster, and blocked access to the country’s parliament and courts, in what it said was an attempt to weed out “criminals” around the president and “pacify a degenerating political, social, and economic situation.”

The military also said it would give back power “as soon as we have accomplished our mission.” Earlier on Friday, the Zimbabwean Defence Forces said its leaders were “currently engaging” with Mugabe and had made “significant progress” in their goal, according to CNN.

Mugabe has refused to step down — despite the military’s calls for him to do so — and insisted on completing his presidential term, which ends next August, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s former prime minister and a key opposition figure, arrived in the country on Wednesday, in what may be a bid to take control from the president.

Meanwhile, soldiers and armoured vehicles continue to patrol Harare, The Telegraph reported.

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