Zimbabwe Britons told to stay inside
BRITISH nationals in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare are being advised to stay indoors amid reports of “unusual military activity”.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued the guidance in the early hours of this morning following political tensions in the African country.
Zimbabwe’s army has said it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital’s streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster.
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 withdraw the limited cash available, a routine chore in the country’s ongoing financial crisis.
In an address to the nation after taking control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, an army spokesman said that the military was targeting “criminals” around Mr Mugabe, and sought to reassure the country that order would be restored.
The president sacked his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, with the 93-year-old leader having previously accused Mr Mnangagwa of plotting to oust him.
Mr Mnangagwa fled Zimbabwe but said he would return to lead the country.
It was not clear where Mr Mugabe and his wife were today but the army spokesman said: “Their security is guaranteed.”
He added: “We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normal.”
Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets.
Army commander Constantino Chiwenga now appears to be in control.
Mr Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party responded by accusing the general of “treasonable conduct”.
But the army has been praised by the nation’s war veterans for carrying out “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power”.
Chris Mutsvangwa, chairman of the war veterans’ association, said the military would return Zimbabwe to “genuine democracy” and make the country a “modern model nation”.
The US Embassy closed to the public today and encouraged citizens to take shelter, citing “the ongoing political uncertainty through the night”.
The British Embassy issued a similar warning. The FCO guidance said: “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.”
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They will be joined by Made In Chelsea’s Georgia “Toff”Toffolo and Saturdays singer Vanessa White.
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi, YouTube personality Jack Maynard, ex-footballer Dennis Wise and Rebekah Vardy, wife of England
The army spokesman on TV