Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power, said Botswana President Ian Khama. Picture: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, File

Johannesburg - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe should end his attempts to remain in office after the military seized power this week as he has no regional diplomatic support to stay in power, Botswana President Ian Khama said on Friday.

The military intervention, which political sources say could pave the way to a national unity government after 37 years of Mugabe rule, also presented "an opportunity to put Zimbabwe on a path to peace and prosperity", Khama told Reuters.

"I don't think anyone should be President for that amount of time. We are Presidents, we are not monarchs. It's just common sense," Khama said.

Read more: LOOK: Mugabe appears in public for first time since military takeover

Seizing on the political limbo to speak out, civil society groups and opposition leaders urged Mugabe to step aside after 37 years in power and for the country to transition into free and fair elections.

A joint statement by more than 100 civil society groups urged Mugabe to peacefully step aside and asked the military to respect the constitution. A joint statement by churches also appealed for calm.

One analyst said he believed the negotiations "have pretty much reached an end point" to get Mugabe to step aside and that it was a "matter of hours or days."

Reuters and Associated Press