Zimbabwe's military appealed for calm on Monday as MPs prepared to to impeach Robert Mugabe as a "source of instability" amid mounting public outrage at his refusal to step down as the country's president on Sunday.
In a public address on Monday evening, the military, which launched a soft coup against Mr Mugabe last week, said it had agreed on a "road map" out of the deadlock and that a former vice president whose sacking triggered the crisis would return to the country shortly.
"We remained seized with Operation Restore Legacy... we have made further consultation to agree on a road map on the prevailing situation” Gen Constantino Chiwenga, the head of the armed forces, said in a press conference. "We are encouraged by communication between the President and former vice president. We will advise the nation about talks between the two."
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled the country after Mr Mugabe was fired him as vice president earlier this month, has not been seen since the coup began. The military is widely assumed to be seeking to install him as president.
Mr Mugabe shocked the world and sparked confusion in Zimbabwe when he used a televised address - expected to be a resignation speech - to claim that military coup did not represent a challenge to his authority and that he would preside over the party’s December congress as previously planned.
The speech, which came after his own party recalled him as their leader and organised massive street protests calling for his resignation in a bid to pressure him to resign, was so unexpected it sparked speculation he had been handed the wrong speech, possibly with the collusion of the generals.
“We were disappointed yesterday in the midst of all those generals he appeared to swap [speeches]” Chris Mutsvangwa, the head of the country’s influential veterans association, said at a press conference on Monday morning, referring to footage that showed Mr Mugabe shuffling papers and one of the generals seated behind him handling a sheaf of A4 sheets before he began speaking on Sunday.
Mr Mutsvanga, whose organization was once a bastion of support for Mr Mugabe but is now calling for his removal, said the president's refusal to stand down a "dereliction of duty". Addressing Mr Mugabe directly, he added: "Your time is up."
A senior military source told the Telegraph that the country's generals had nothing to do with the non-resignation and were “stunned” and left “furious” when Mr Mugabe finished his rambling 20 minute speech without stepping down.
"They still respect him, so they would not check [the text of the speech]. They believed he would resign. The couldn't do anything to stop him," said the source, a long-serving senior officer.
Mr Mugabe has been under effective house arrest since the Zimbabwean military seized control of the country on Tuesday night in a coup designed to prevent him his wife, Grace, from succeeding him as president and install Mr Mnangagwa instead.
In an effort to retain a semblance of legitimacy for their actions, the generals have attempted to persuade Mr Mugabe to resign in accordance with the country’s constitution rather than to simply oust him in a classic coup d’etat. He was widely reported to have agreed to do so before Sunday night, when he claimed he would preside over the Zanu-PF party congress on December as planned.
Zanu-PF, the party Mr Mugabe founded and which he has led in office for more than 37 years, met to debate a parliamentary impeachment motion after the 93 year old president ignored another deadline to step down. The party had demanded that Mr Mugabe resign by midday local time (10:AM GMT).
A draft of the impeachment and no-confidence motion, which the Telegraph has seen, lists grievances including failing to address corruption, sending the country into a 15-year "economic tailspin", allowing his wife, Grace Mugabe, to assume his constitutional responsibilities, and accusing deputies of plotting coups without evidence.
"This attests to the President's poor sense of judgement and disrespect for the law," reads the motion which was drafted by Lovemore Matuke, the Zanu-PF chief whip in parliament.
"[The motion] herefore calls upon this house to cause the removal of the President from office in light of the above," it adds.
Zimbabwe’s constitution allows parliament to remove the president if two thirds of both houses find him unfit to carry out his duties.
Parliament first would have to vote by a simple majority to appoint a select committee to investigate Mr Mugabe’s fitness to rule.
Paul Mangwana, Zanu-PF’s deputy secretary for legal affairs, told reporters at the party's Harare headquarters that impeachment could be set in motion as early as Tuesday and could be completed in two days.
Other legal experts have warned it could take weeks, however.
MPs from the Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe’s main opposition party, said they would meet on Tuesday to agree a position on a possible impeachment vote.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, warned that infighting inside Zanu-PF and differences with the military over how to handle the crisis should not be allowed to prevent a "fresh start" for the country.
"It would be inimical to progress and the future of the country if all this action was about power retention at all costs," Mr Tsvangirai wrote on his party’s website.
The development came as one of Grace Mugabe's closest allies said he had manged to flee the country.
Jonathan Moyo, the tertiary education minister and a key figure in G40, the faction surrounding Mrs Mugabe, tweeted that he and at least 50 other senior party officials were "outside of the country." The tweet was later deleted
Theresa May said on Monday that it was clear Mr Mugabe had lost the support of the Zimbabwean people but that the outcome of the crisis remained uncertain.
"We don't yet know how developments in Zimbabwe are going to play out. What does appear clear is that Mugabe has lost the support of the people and of his party," said James Slack, Mrs May’s spokesman.
Mr Slack said Britain "would appeal for everyone to refrain from violence and hope to see a peaceful and swift resolution to the situation."
Kenneth Kaunda, a former president of Zambia, arrived in Harare on Monday in a bid to persuade Mr Mugabe to make a “dignified” exit.