Robert Mugabe has attended a university graduation ceremony on the outskirts of Harare in his first public appearance since a takeover by the Zimbabwean military on Wednesday.
Clad in academic gown and hat, the 93-year-old walked slowly in a procession on a red carpet to a podium as a marching band played. He was applauded as he announced the opening of the ceremony.
His appearance followed an army statement describing “significant progress” that was broadcast on national television and published by state-run media on Friday morning.
The statement appears to have been aimed at quelling growing concerns that the military takeover could descend swiftly into chaos.
The appearance of the president in public is likely to fuel such worries, and reinforce growing pressure on the military to rapidly resolve the ongoing crisis.
Mugabe has resisted pressure to step down, and says the army’s intervention is illegal, sources close to the military said.
Allowing the president to attend the graduation ceremony suggests the military want their intervention to be seen as primarily directed at Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and her associates.
Neither Grace Mugabe nor Jonathan Moyo, the higher education minister, was present at the graduation ceremony. Moyo is believed to be among those detained.