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President Robert Mugabe’s refusal to step down has been described as his “last card” to retain power, while a military intervention by the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) in his favour has been ruled out.

In an interview with News24, Derek Matyszak of the Institute of Security Studies said: “Mugabe’s last card is his ability to confer legitimacy onto his successor. If he steps down by agreement, his successor can say he (or she) did not come to power through a coup. If Mugabe is forced out, then it will be coup and SADC and AU will have to act tough,” says Matyszak.

Mugabe on Thursday reportedly refused to step down after a bloodless military intervention in the southern African country.

The talks in Harare came after soldiers blockaded key roads, took over state TV and detained the veteran leader.

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“They met today. He is refusing to step down. I think he is trying to buy time,” said the source, who declined to be named.

Mugabe reportedly met with the regional block envoys that were headed by South African ministers in Harare.

The regional body has called for an urgent summit in Botswana to discuss the Zimbabwe political stand off.

“I think SADC will not be very robust over this…they have a dilemma in that they have a firm rule, no coups…but they all know it is time for Mugabe to go. The statement I saw simply urged Zimbabwe to follow constitutional processes and said nothing about the fact that they were currently being violated,” Matyszak said.

Matyszak believed that the regional body will only demand an urgent return to the constitution and would likely accept an interim government which would pave way for an election.

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