Observers see a political drama playing out within Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party as senior officials who believe President Robert Mugabe must be eased out of power confront the president who seems determined to seek yet another term.
The ZANU-PF central committee, scheduled to meet on Friday, was expected to give its endorsement to the nomination of Mr. Mugabe's as the party's candidate in the presidential election that now seems likely to be held next year on schedule.
Mr. Mugabe is said to have kept the divisive issue off the agenda earlier this week in a meeting of the ZANU-PF politburo, fending off efforts by supporters of Vice President Joyce Mujuru to open the question of whether it was time for him to retire.
The president is said to have angrily brushed aside moves to open a discussion as to his succession, saying the people, not the politburo, would decide the question. Party spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira refused to comment on the proceedings.
Mugabe loyalists in the party women’s league urged he be made president for life.
Political analyst Sydney Masamvu of the International Crisis Group told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the challenge to Mr. Mugabe’s candidacy shows he is losing his grip on the party apparatus.