Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF will discuss the impeachment of President Robert Mugabe, its chief whip says, after a noon deadline expired for the 93-year-old to resign and bring the curtain down on nearly four decades in power.
Impeachment could see Mugabe kicked out by a vote in parliament in under a day and would represent an ignominious end to the career of the "Grand Old Man" of African politics, who was once lauded across the continent as an anti-colonial hero.
Chief whip Lovemore Matuke told Reuters ZANU-PF members of parliament would meet on Monday to start mapping out Mugabe's impeachment.
In the draft motion, the party accused Mugabe of being a "source of instability", flouting the rule of law and presiding over an "unprecedented economic tailspin" in the past 15 years.
It also said he had abrogated his constitutional mandate to his hot-headed and unpopular 52-year-old wife Grace, whose tilt at power triggered the backlash from the army that saw it put tanks on the streets of the capital last week.
On paper, the process is relatively long-winded, involving a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly, then a nine-member committee of senators, then another joint sitting to confirm his dismissal with a two-thirds majority.
However, constitutional experts said ZANU-PF had the numbers and could push it through in as little as 24 hours.
ZANU-PF's action follows a weekend of high drama in Harare that culminated in reports Mugabe had agreed to stand down -- only for him to dash the hopes of millions of his countrymen in a bizarre and rambling national address on Sunday night.
Flanked by the generals who sent in troops last week to seize the state broadcaster, Mugabe spoke of the need for national unity and farming reform, but made no mention of his fate, leaving the nation of 16 million people dumbstruck.
Two senior government sources told Reuters Mugabe had agreed on Sunday to step aside and CNN said on Monday his resignation letter had been drawn up, with terms that included immunity for him and Grace.
Two other political sources said Mugabe had indeed agreed to resign but ZANU-PF did not want him to quit in front of the military, an act that would have made its mid-week intervention look like a coup.
Deadline passes for Mugabe to quit
"Your time is up," veterans association leader Chris Mutsvangwa said at a press conference on Monday. "You should have the dignity and decency to spare the country of further turmoil by simply announcing your departure immediately."
He also suggested that the military, even though it put Mugabe under house arrest days ago, was still beholden to him and compelled to protect him because he is officially their "commander in chief.
Zimbabweans were astonished that Mugabe, flanked by the military in his national address on Sunday night, remained defiant.
The war veterans' association will go to court to argue that Mugabe is "derelict of his executive duty," Mr Mutsvangwa said.
Some ruling party members said an impeachment process likely wouldn't lead to Mugabe's immediate resignation and could take days to complete.