by WorldTribune Staff, November 15, 2017
Zimbabwe’s aging ruler Robert Mugabe was placed under house arrest by the nation’s army, which denied a coup was taking place.
A Zimbabwean army officer, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo, went on air and denied there was a coup, but said the military was targeting “criminals” around President Mugabe.
“This is not a military takeover of government,” Moyo said.
The U.S. government has called for an “expedient transition to democratic, civilian order” on Thursday as local press coverage pointed to an end of Mugabe’s brutal, decades-long rule.
A statement by the U.S. Embassy in the capital city of Harare said the U.S. government is “deeply concerned” by the actions taken by Zimbabwean military Wednesday that included putting Mugabe into military custody.
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Photos in the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper showed Mugabe meeting Thursday with the army commander who put him under house arrest, as negotiations were conducted with a South African delegation and a Catholic priest at the state house.
Troops have seized state television and are patrolling the capital, Harare, the BBC reported on Nov. 15.
Both the U.S. Embassy and UK Foreign Office in Harare advised their citizens to remain indoors until the situation becomes clearer.
Mugabe told South African President Jacob Zuma in a phone call that he was fine, the South African leader’s office said.
The 93-year-old Mugabe, the world’s oldest national leader, has dominated the country’s political scene since it gained independence from the UK in 1980.
The military’s move may be a bid to replace Mugabe with his sacked deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, BBC correspondents said.
Mnangagwa’s dismissal last week left Mugabe’s wife Grace as the president’s likely successor. The rivalry between Grace Mugabe and Mnangagwa has split the governing Zanu-PF party.
On Nov. 13, army chief Gen Constantino Chiwenga said the army was prepared to act to end purges within Zanu-PF.
The leader of the nation’s war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, told Reuters: “It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”