Thousands of protesters are expected to turn out in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for march organized by war veterans’ groups

Protesters dance and sing, one holding a poster asking President Mugabe to step down, at a demonstration at Zimbabwe Grounds in Harare Photograph:

Tens of thousands of people gathered in the centre of Harare on Saturday morning to call for the resignation of Robert Mugabe, as moves to force the Zimbabwean president to stand down gather pace.

Euphoric crowds filled streets in the centre of the city and cars honked their horns. “It’s like Christmas,” said one marcher, Fred Mubay as quoted by Guardians . He said Zimbabweans had been suffering for a long time and were now, finally, happy.

Many carried national flags. One had a poster with a message for the 93-year-old president: “Leave Zimbabwe now!!!” while a vendor at an intersection held up a newspaper with the headline: “Mugabe cornered.”

The army seized power four days ago but Mugabe has refused its demands to leave office. The military and senior officials within the ruling Zanu-PF party now appear set on forcing Mugabe out within 48 hours.

Few options are open to the veteran autocrat, who has ruled Zimbabwe through a mixture of coercion, bribery and revolutionary rhetoric for nearly four decades. Support in some branches of the security establishment – such as the police – has evaporated and many political supporters have been detained.

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