Friday 15 December 2017
 
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Army takes control in Zimbabwe, Mugabe 'under arrest'

HARARE, 29 days ago

Zimbabwe’s military took control of the country early Wednesday and detained its longtime leader, President Robert Mugabe, capping a political showdown over Mugabe’s apparent attempts to install his wife as his successor.

In a televised announcement after tanks and troops rolled into the capital, Harare, a general insisted that it was “not a military takeover,” reported The Washington Post.

Despite the assurances, the events bore all the hallmarks of a coup, with military vehicles stationed around the city, the army taking over the television station and a uniformed general issuing a statement.

Army General Constantino Chiwenga made the move as the struggle over who will succeed the country’s increasingly frail 93-year-old leader came to a head. Mugabe has ruled since he led the country to independence from white minority rule in 1980.

Mugabe is one of the oldest and longest-ruling leaders to come out of Africa’s struggle against colonialism and the emergence of new nations across the continent.

His rule, however, has also become increasingly erratic, and he is blamed by many for devastating the once-prosperous country, said The Washington Post report.

“We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover,” said the statement read by Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo. “We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country.”

The fate of Mugabe and his wife, 52-year-old Grace Mugabe, who increasingly looked set to succeed him, was unclear, but they appeared to be in military custody.

Meanwhile South African President Jacob Zuma told BBC that Mugabe was indeed under house arrest in the capital Harare.

In a statement, Zuma's office said: "President Zuma spoke to President Robert Mugabe earlier today who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine."

The move may be a bid to replace Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents say.

Mnangagwa's dismissal last week left Mugabe's wife Grace as the president's likely successor.
Heavy gun and artillery fire could be heard in northern parts of Harare early on Wednesday.

China, Zimbabwe's biggest trading partner, says it is closely watching the situation and hopes that the relevant parties can properly handle their internal affairs.

In Harare, some people greeted the news with delight. "We are going to have a good life, we are looking forward to Christmas, because of what has happened," one woman told BBC News.

"I want to thank the general for removing this tyrant," said a man. "He was ruling the country as if it belonged to his family," he added.




Tags: army | Zimbabwe | Mugabe |

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