Zimbabwen army: We're targeting criminals, not Mugabe

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Zimbabwe's military says it has launched an operation to "target criminals" around President Robert Mugabe, but insisted that the 93-year-old president and his family are safe. Gen. S.B. Moyo said on state television. He urged the public to remain calm but "limit unnecessary movement".

Armed soldiers were assaulting passers-by in the early morning hours in Harare while officers were seen loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles.

Nothing has been heard from 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe so far.

She said the action by the country's soldiers was an interim measure to bring some form of "political reality".

"It seems as if it's a coup by any other name".

President Mugabe has exerted nearly total authority over Zimbabwean politics for decades - but the sacking of his most senior long-time confidant "has laid bare the rivalries inside Zimbabwe's political establishment" and could spark repercussions beyond his control, says the Daily Mail. Police road blocks were in their usual spots and police were "acting normally".

Mnangagwa had been tipped as a likely successor to Mugabe, but fell foul of the president's powerful wife, Grace Mugabe.

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Mugabe's second wife has developed a reputation as a shrewd, if sometimes extravagant, politician, and has steadily gained influence among youth in Zimbabwe. She's been nicknamed "Gucci Grace" for her exorbitant shopping sprees overseas, trips which stand in stark contrast to the lives of those hit hard by the country's massive inflation and debt burdens.

Last month, Mrs Mugabe warned of a possible coup plot, saying allies of Mr Mnangagwa were threatening the lives of those who didn't support him.

According to the army general, they expect that the situation will return to normalcy "as soon as we have accomplished our mission".

State media did not cover the press conference at first, but was re-airing it on state media Wednesday, a sign that the military may have taken control of the station.

The staffers of the state broadcasting claimed that they were manhandled by the soldiers as they took control of the office.

"As a country that is friendly with Zimbabwe, we are paying close attention to developments of the situation in Zimbabwe", Geng added.

The statement ordered all military personnel on leave to return to barracks immediately, and advised all security services to cooperate, threatening any provocation with "appropriate response".

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"One hopes that Zimbabwe itself does not descend into martial law", he said.

As Mr Mugabe's powers finally falter, all eyes are on the leadership succession. Grace split with her own husband, and her wedding to the president in 1996 was attended by Nelson Mandela and other African leaders.

"It's already confirmed Mugabe is under house arrest". Mugabe, who has held the presidency for more than two decades, remains the only leader many in the country have ever known.

In 1979, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced that he United Kingdom would officially recognise Rhodesia's independence if it moved to democratic majority rule.

The previous day, Chiwenga had made clear the army's refusal to accept the removal of Mnangagwa - like the generals a veteran of Zimbabwe's anti-colonial liberation war - and the presumed accession of Grace, once a secretary in the government typing pool.

Martin Rupiya, an expert on Zimbabwe military affairs at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, said the army appeared to be putting the squeeze on Mugabe.

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