WASHINGTON (AP) – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for a return to civilian rule in Zimbabwe and says the country has a chance to put itself on a “new path” amid signs longtime authoritarian President Robert Mugabe (moo-GAH’-bay) will be forced from power after 37 years in a bloodless coup.
Speaking at a meeting of African foreign ministers at the State Department on Friday, Tillerson said that whoever replaces Mugabe at the helm must respect democracy and human rights. He said the choice of leadership is solely the choice of the Zimbabwean people.
His comments came as the 93-year-old Mugabe made his first public appearance since the military put him under house arrest this week. The military has announced “significant progress” on talks for his departure and arrested some of his allies.