Zimbabwe army seizes con­trol; Mu­gabe ‘safe’

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Mac­don­ald Dzirutwe Reuters

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s mil­i­tary said it had seized power in a tar­geted as­sault on “crim­i­nals” around Pres­i­dent Robert Mu­gabe, but it gave as­sur­ances the 93-year-old leader and his fam­ily were “safe and sound.”

Zim­bab­wean sol­diers blocked roads to the main gov­ern­ment of­fices, par­lia­ment and the courts in cen­tral Harare, a Reuters wit­ness said Wed­nes­day.

Zim­bab­weans queued for cash out­side banks as pub­lic taxis fer­ried com­muters to work.

“We are only tar­get­ing crim­i­nals around him (Mu­gabe) who are com­mit­ting crimes that are caus­ing so­cial and eco­nomic suf­fer­ing in the coun­try in or­der to bring them to jus­tice,” Ma­jor Gen­eral SB Moyo said on na­tional tele­vi­sion Wed­nes­day.

“As soon as we have ac­com­plished our mis­sion, we ex­pect that the sit­u­a­tion will re­turn to nor­malcy.”

The mil­i­tary de­tained Fi­nance Min­is­ter Ig­natius Chombo 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.

Sol­diers de­ployed across Harare on Tues­day and seized the state broad­caster af­ter the ZANU-PF party ac­cused the head of the mil­i­tary of trea­son, prompt­ing fren­zied spec­u­la­tion of a coup.

Just 24 hours af­ter mil­i­tary chief Gen­eral Con­stantino Chi­wenga threat­ened to in­ter­vene to end a purge of his al­lies in the ZANU-PF, a Reuters reporter saw ar­mored per­son­nel car­ri­ers on main roads around the cap­i­tal.

Two hours later, sol­diers over­ran the head­quar­ters of the ZBC, Zimbabwe’s state broad­caster.

Shortly af­ter­wards, three ex­plo­sions rocked the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal, Reuters wit­nesses said.

The United States and Bri­tain ad­vised cit­i­zens in Harare to stay in­doors.

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