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Developing: Zimbabwe army takes control of government offices and detains Robert Mugabe

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After a tumultuous week in Zimbabwe, the army has taken the unprecedented step of seizing crucial state institutions

Anna Freeman

15 Noviembre 2017 12:54

Zimbabwe’s army has increased military presence in the capital and said it is detaining President Robert Mugabe and his wife, among other top officials, after a tumultuous week of politics in the African country.

Reports of gunfire and explosions as the army took control of government offices and the state broadcaster in Harare began to emerge late last night and early on Wednesday morning, but the Zimbabwean army highlighted that it was not a ‘military takeover’ or coup.

A military spokesperson, Maj Gen SB Moyo, announced on state TV that Mugabe and his wife were ‘safe and sound and their security is guaranteed’. Moyo said the army was targeting 'criminals around' Mugabe, who were ‘committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in order to bring them to justice’.

The motive of the takeover comes amid an acrimonious battle over who will take over as President of Zimbabwe once 93-year-old Mugabe dies. Emerson Mnangagwa, former vice-president and spy chief, who is well-liked by many in the army, was controversially fired last week on charges of disloyalty.

Mnangagwa’s firing kickstarted an insurgent movement across the country. The move has been interpreted as way to clear a pathway to power for Grace Mugabe, the current president’s 53-year-old wife, who has increasingly become a vocal political figure, if not divisive.

Although the military involvement has all the elements of a coup, Moyo went to great lengths to say that it wasn’t. He said that ‘as soon as [the armed forces] are done the situation will come to normalcy.

‘We urge you to remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. However, we encourage those who are employed and those with essential business in the city to continue their normal activities as usual.’

This story is developing. We will update it throughout the day.

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