Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has baffled the country by ending his address on national television without announcing his resignation.
The ruling party’s Central Committee had hours earlier told him to resign as president by noon on Monday or face impeachment proceedings the following day.
Zimbabweans gathered in expectation of a celebration.
Instead, Mugabe appeared to hint at challenging the ruling party, which has expelled him as its leader, by trying to stay on.
He made a reference to presiding over a party congress next month.
“The congress is due in a few weeks from now. I will preside over its processes, which must not be possessed by any acts calculated to undermine it or compromise the outcomes in the eyes of the public,” he said.
Officials close to the talks between Mugabe and the military had said the president would resign.
Mugabe noted the political turmoil that led to his military house arrest and expulsion as ruling party leader.
“From tonight … the nation at all levels gets refocused,” he said
He said that “failures of the past” may have triggered anger in some quarters, which he calls “quite understandable”.
He also notes that “intergenerational conflict must be resolved”, a reference to his apparent positioning of his unpopular 52-year-old wife to succeed him.
Mugabe is 93 and had been backed by fellow veterans of the country’s liberation war, until they turned against him.
Zimbabweans have said they feel profoundly disappointed that Mugabe is resisting pressure to step aside.
Victor Matemadanda, secretary general of the country’s war veterans association, said he feels betrayed.
He said: “He is playing games with the people of Zimbabwe. He agrees to go and then plays games with us like that at the last minute.”
Mr Matemadanda said the war veterans will again rally the people to protest, and “this time the army will let him face the people. … The army will now choose between shooting the people or protecting Mugabe”.
Zimbabweans who gathered at a bar in the capital to celebrate the expected resignation said they are frustrated.
Nyasha said: “I would be happy for him, despite everything he has done, to leave with dignity and just walk away. … He is so stubborn.”
Shengi said: “Mugabe is a dictator and he’ll always be a dictator.”