The military said it had seized power in a targeted assault on “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe, and said the 93-year-old leader and his family were “safe and sound.”
Zimbabwe’s army said on Wednesday it had taken President Robert Mugabe and his wife into custody and are currently securing government offices and patrolling the capital’s streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster.
According to reports, Mugabe and his wife are under house arrest at their mansion in the Harare suburb of Borrowdale.
The night’s action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military’s supporters praised it as a “bloodless correction.”
Armed soldiers in armoured personnel carriers stationed themselves at key points in Harare, while Zimbabweans formed long lines at banks in order to draw the limited cash available, a routine chore in the country’s ongoing financial crisis.
People looked at their phones to read about the army takeover and others went to work or to shops.
Mnangagwa back in Zimbabwe
Dismissed former Zimbabwean vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is back to the country after leaving the country after death threats were issued against him, has lauded the army action.
Over two tweets, he praised the army intervention and said it would lead the way to elections.
He added that he will be busy over the next few days.
Mnangagwa, also known as “The Crocodile” was sacked last week amid a row over leadership in the Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF party.
Today 15/11/17, we salute & applaud the bravery of our ZDF who decisively rejected desperate last minute concessions by an Executive whose sole objective was to create a family dynasty.
An Army led transitional phase will now pave way for a peaceful, free&fair democratic election
Zimbabweans stay calm &remain tuned to national news.
I’m back in the Country &will be quite busy over the next few days. My communication with you will now be via formal broadcasting channels so I’m unlikely to use the twitter handle. Thank you all for the support & solidarity
Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets.
The military also detained Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo along with other officials on Wednesday, a government source said.
Chombo was a leading member of the so-called G40 faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by Mugabe’s wife Grace, that had been vying to succeed Mugabe.
The military actions have put the army in control of the country.
Army commander Constantino Chiwenga had threatened on Monday to “step in” to calm political tensions.
Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing the general of “treasonable conduct.” But now Chiwenga appears to be in control.
The army has been praised by the nation’s war veterans for carrying out “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power.”
The military will return Zimbabwe to “genuine democracy” and make the country a “modern model nation,” said Chris Mutsvangwa, chairman of the war veterans’ association said.
Mutsvangwa and the war veterans are staunch allies of Mnangagwa, who was fired from his post of vice president by Mugabe last week. Mnangagwa fled Zimbabwe last week but said he would return to lead the country.
US embassy advice
The US ambassador in Zimbabwe has instructed all employees to remain home on Wednesday due to “ongoing political uncertainty,” the embassy said in a statement on its website amid speculation about a coup.
“US citizens in Zimbabwe are encouraged to shelter in place until further notice,” the statement said, adding the embassy would be closed to the public on Wednesday.
The UK government on Wednesday also advised its citizens currently in Harare to remain indoors until the political situation becomes clearer in the African country.
“Due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer,” the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement.
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