Mugabe-era ends in Zimbabwe following military takeover dubbed a ‘soft coup’

UPDATE 2 — 11/19, 7:58 a.m. EST: Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF party voted Sunday to remove Robert Mugabe as the organization’s leader, along with his wife Grace.

Not expected to forfeit his office amid reports of defiance, the Parliament of Zimbabwe will meet to start impeachment proceedings against President Mugabe on Tuesday.

 

UPDATE — 11/18, 3:00 p.m. EST: Reuters is reporting President Mugabe will be replaced by his ruling ZANU-PF party on Sunday with former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets of Harare Saturday to celebrate Mugabe’s impending downfall, while protesters more than 1,500 miles away in Cape Town, South Africa, called for the 93-year-old leader to resign.

“I’m ecstatic to see people give Mugabe a reality check because he has been in his echo chamber for too long, lying to himself that people still want him,” said a 37-year-old former Zimbabwe technology student.

 

President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule over the southern Africa nation of Zimbabwe ended Wednesday morning after the country’s troops arrested him and his wife Grace at his home in Harare.

Mr. Mugabe is reportedly under house arrest.  Zimbabwean military officials insist both Mr. Mugabe and his wife are “safe and sound.”  Mugabe, 93, is the oldest head of state in the world.

According to reports, Zimbabwean troops engaging in what is described as a “soft coup” assumed control over the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), Harare airport, government buildings, state media and the presidents’s residence.  Shortly thereafter, troops moved in and arrested Mr. Mugabe at his private residence.

Sporadic gunfire and minor explosions were hear intermittently throughout the city Wednesday.

Following Mugabe’s arrest, a senior military commander, Major General SB Moyo, appeared on state television to report on the military’s actions and to deny staging of a takeover.

Describing the detainment of Mugabe and the arrest of several aides to the president as “restoring order,” Moyo addressed the nation:

“We are only targeting criminals around (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice.”

Speculation persists the military took the step to detain Mugabe over his decision to dismiss former First Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday, Nov. 6.  It is widely believed Mugabe removed Mnangagwa to pave the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed Mugabe as president.

Despite being placed under house arrest, Mugabe has resisted all calls to step down as president and has since been photographed by state media sitting peacefully alongside military chief General Constantino Chiwenga.

Mugabe’s wife reportedly left the country for the southwest African nation of Namibia, but those claims have since been refuted by local authorities in the capital city of Windhoek.

“I would be very surprised if she would leave the side of the president when the negotiations were going on. She’s not that kind of person,” said parliamentary opposition party member Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

 

Editor’s note: The last two paragraphs of this article have been updated.

 

[Evening Standard] [ZBC] [The Guardian] [Photo courtesy Reuters/Rogan Ward via Quartz]

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