UN urges urges restraint as Robert Mugabe’s time comes to an end

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
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The United Nations and the African Union have called on Zimbabwe’s military to show ‘restraint’ and restore constitutional order to the country.

This is coming after the country’s military took control of power and detained President Robert Mugabe under house arrest in what seems like a coup. Though the military denies staging a coup, saying that Mr Mugabe is safe and that it was acting against “criminals” surrounding him, Alpha Conde, head of the key regional bloc – the African Union on Wednesday said the crisis in Zimbabwe “seems like a coup” and demands an immediate return to constitutional order. But Denies Coup Alpha Conde, who is also Guinea’s president, said the AU condemned the actions of the top brass in the southern African nation as “clearly soldiers trying to take power by force”.

Expressing support for the country’s “legal institutions,” a statement by the regional bloc said, “the African Union expresses its serious concern regarding the situation unfolding in Zimbabwe.” The African body further demanded “constitutional order to be restored immediately and calls on all stakeholders to show responsibility and restraint. In the same vein, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on all sides in Zimbabwe to show “restraint”.

Guterres who says he is monitoring the situation “appeals for calm, non-violence and restraint.” According to a UN spokesman Farhan Haq, Guterres “stresses the importance of resolving political differences through peaceful means and dialogue, and in line with the country’s constitution.

The UN chief noted that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was making efforts to end the crisis. The Zimbabwean military took control of the country on Wednesday after a struggle to succeed 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe erupted in public, culminating in the sacking of the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Their move follows a power struggle over who might replace Mr Mugabe. Vice-president Mnangagwa was fired last week, making Mr Mugabe’s wife Grace the president’s likely successor – but leaving top military officials feeling sidelined.

Mugabe is under house arrest, according to a conversation reported by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Mugabe “indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine,” the South African government said in a statement.

However, there is no doubt that the events of the last days in Zimbabwe mark the beginning of the end of Robert Mugabe’s reign. The dictator’s 37-year-rule was distinguished by untold suffering, high inflation, shortages of water, electricity and money. Millions of Zimbabweans left the country in search of better opportunities. The majority of those who remained were left to live in poverty and illness.

While some citizens, rightfully desperate for change, say this is the best step toward some kind of reform, there is evidence this intervention is driven by the self-interest of military generals rather than national interest, which makes prospects for economic and democratic reforms bleak.