Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN)Former Zimbabwean Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged longtime President Robert Mugabe to resign in a strongly worded statement delivered from an unknown location outside of the country.
In the statement issued Tuesday morning, the former vice president said he refused to return to Zimbabwe until he was sure he would be safe, despite an invitation from Mugabe to discuss “the current political events in the nation.”
He alleged he was told by “friendly” security personnel in November there were plans to “eliminate” him once he had been removed from his post and taken into custody.
Mnangagwa is thought to have fled Zimbabwe after Mugabe fired him unexpectedly earlier this month. His ouster triggered a political crisis which led to a shock military takeover last Wednesday.
“I told the President I would not return home now until I am satisfied of my personal security, because of the manner and treatment given to me upon being fired,” he said in the statement.
Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe for nearly 40 years, has yet to publicly announce his resignation despite an apparent coup and his political party, ZANU-PF, removing him as leader.
“Mugabe has always said that if the people don’t want him he will leave office, now that they have spoken he must now accept the will of the people and resign,” the statement said.
The issue could soon be taken out of Mugabe’s hands, with the president’s own party expected to set into motion plans to impeach him in the country’s parliament Tuesday.
On Monday, the country’s military chief said Mugabe had agreed to direct talks with the former Vice President he recently fired, a sacking that triggered political calamity, but Mnangagwa’s statement could throw those into doubt.
A source told CNN that Mugabe had agreed to terms for his resignation in talks with military leaders who have seized control in the country, and that a letter had been drafted.
But the midday deadline for his resignation passed Monday with no word from the defiant leader.
In his statement, Mnangagwa said he had told Mugabe there were two options — work to leave peacefully and preserve his legacy or be forced out in humiliation.
“The will of the people will prevail against one person,” he said.
Developing story – more to come
Ben Westcott, CNN