+++ Zimbabwe: Military steps in — live updates +++ | News | DW | 15.11.2017
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+++ Zimbabwe: Military steps in — live updates +++

A military spokesman denied mounting a coup, saying instead it instituted a "national democratic project." President Robert Mugabe has been placed under house arrest. Read the latest here.

  • Zimbabwe's military seized power on Wednesday in what its supporters described as a "bloodless correction."
  • The army put President Robert Mugabe under house arrest while providing assurances that the 93-year-old leader and his family were "safe and sound and their security is guaranteed."
  • Soldiers and armored vehicles blocked roads outside Zimbabwe parliament and other key government buildings.

All times in Central European Time (Zimbabwe is one hour ahead)

16.45 Head of the African Union Alpha Conde has said the crisis in Zimbabwe seems like a coup. He added that the military should halt their actions and submit to constitutional order. 

Conde told France's AFP news agency that those engaged in the operation were "clearly soldiers trying to take power by force."

15:32 Andy Lines, reporter for the British daily Daily Mirror, says a Zimbabwean source told him that Grace Mugabe "flew to Namibia last night with the permission of the military."

15:10 News agency Associated Press reports that former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa may be poised to return to Zimbabwe to assume a leadership role. Mnangagwa  — nicknamed the "Crocodile" — was fired by President Mugabe at the beginning of November after a public feud with the Mugabe's wife about who would succeed the aging president.

15:04 The president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has called for "respect for the constitution." Nigeria is Africa's largest country by population and one of the continent's biggest economies.

14:55 Speaking to the British Parliament, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said: "nobody wants simply to see the transition from one unelected tyrant to a next. (...) We want to see proper, free and fair elections."

12:08 The head of Zimbabwe's influential war veterans association has called for the removal of Mugabe as president.

Victor Matemadanda, who praised the military takeover, asked the ruling party to inquire into Mugabe and why he decided to let his wife insult veterans and the armed forces.

12:05 The European Union has expressed concern over the developments in Zimbabwe and called for dialogue and a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

"Recent political developments in Zimbabwe and their spillover, including in relation to the country's security forces are a matter of concern," said a spokesman for the European Commission, the EU executive.

Read more: How a decade of economic woe has fueled Zimbawe's unrest

12:02 A DW correspondent was beaten up by soldiers Tuesday night after responding to a hoax press conference allegedly called by the military. 

"I have no fractures and have been released from the hospital. Sitting and walking are major problems," the correspondent said, adding that another reporter was still receiving treatment for a broken hand.

11:48 President of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and former Finance Minister Tendai Biti told DW that while he condemns the military takeover, he felt it was time for President Mugabe to quit.

Tendai Biti

Biti said he condemned the military takeover but added it was time for Mugabe to leave office

"We acknowledge that there are genuine issues in Zimbabwe that need redress," he said. "There are multiple crises that have all converged at one point. There is an economic crisis, there is a political crisis centered on President Mugabe and this whole succession issue. There is the serious danger of a dynastic takeover by President Mugabe's wife. There is a crisis of social delivery, a crisis of the moral breaking down of the state."

11:30 South African President Jacob Zuma said he spoke to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday morning and that Mugabe told him he was confined to his home but fine.  Zuma, as chair of the Southern African Development Community, is sending special envoys to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe and the Zimbabwean military.

Watch video 00:58

Zuma: Mugabe fine but confined to home

09:47 Zuma expressed concern at developments in neighboring Zimbabwe. He urged the Zimbabwean government and army to resolve their differences amicably and called on them to resist any "unconstitutional changes" of government. 

09:00 The Zimbabwean capital, Harare, remains calm but tense on Wednesday morning. Wary of an impending political turmoil, residents formed long queues at banks in order to withdraw the limited cash available. Serpentine lines have been a common sight in Zimbabwe over the past year as it suffers from a chronic absence of dollars.

Long queues at a Harare bank

Harare residents were seen lining up at banks to withdraw money

08:32 China says a visit last week to Beijing by Zimbabwean military chief General Constantino Chiwenga was a "normal military exchange." General Chiwenga met Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing on Friday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that the defense ministry had handled arrangements for Chiwenga's visit that he termed a pre-planned bilateral exchange.

China has been a staunch supporter of President Mugabe despite rising international criticism.

08:25 The national police force has recalled all officers on leave, the Associated Press news agency reported, quoting an anonymous top police official.

Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare

Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare

05:50 The army's actions were praised as a "bloodless correction" by the country's war veterans' association.

Chris Mutsvangwa, chairman of the war veterans' group, said in Johannesburg that General Chiwenga had carried out "a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power."

Mutsvangwa said the army would usher Zimbabwe in a "better business environment" after years of disinvestment and economic decline and called on South Africa, southern Africa and the West to re-engage with the country.

Watch video 00:28

Zimbabwe army tanks patrol Harare streets

04:50 The Zimbabwe military makes a statement on state television, saying "this is not a military takeover" and that President Robert Mugabe and his family are "safe and sound."

"We are only targeting criminals around who 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, Chief of Staff Logistics, said on television.

Read more: How Zimbabwe reached breaking point

Military statement: key points

  • President Mugabe and his family are "safe and sound" and their security is guaranteed
  • Military only "targeting criminals" around Mugabe
  • "This is not a military takeover"
  • Residents asked to remain calm and limit "unnecessary" movement
  • Essential businesses urged to continue their normal activities as usual
  • Political parties asked to discourage members from engaging in violence
  • All leave for the defense forces is canceled and personnel should return to barracks immediately
Watch video 01:16

Zimbabwe army: This is not a military takeover


Explosions were reported across the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Wednesday, heightening tensions amid a reported standoff between Mugabe's government and the armed forces. Local media reported on Wednesday that military personnel took over the headquarters of Zimbabwe's state broadcaster ZBC.

On Tuesday, Zimbabwe's military chief General Constantino Chiwenga threatened to launch a military intervention to end a purge of his allies in Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party. Military personnel on Wednesday arrested Zimbabwean Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, reported Reuters news agency, citing a government source.

'Shots fired'

A witness told AFP news agency they heard gunfire near Mugabe's private residence in Harare in the early hours of Wednesday.

"From the direction of his house, we heard about 30 or 40 shots fired over three or four minutes soon after 2:00 a.m." the nearby resident was quoted as saying.

Last week, Mugabe fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran of the 1970s liberation movement known for being popular among the country's armed forces, in a move criticized by several military leaders.

Mnangagwa, who was tapped to lead the country in the event of Mugabe's death, fled the country with some 100 officials backed him. However, he faces disciplinary measures from a faction within Mugabe's party that supports his wife Grace Mugabe's accession to power.

Read moreZimbabwe's political wrangles not yet over

Watch video 04:15

Turmoil in Zimbabwe - DW's Privilege Musvanhiri reports from Harare

Residents warned to seek shelter

The US embassy in Zimbabwe announced extra measures to protect diplomatic staff in the country in a statement posted on Twitter

"Due to ongoing uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the US embassy in Harare will be minimally staffed and closed to the public on November 15. Embassy personnel will continue to monitor the situation," said the embassy.

"US government personnel have been instructed to shelter in their residences tonight and work remotely from home" on Wednesday, said a separate statement issued by the embassy.

The UK's embassy in Harare warned British citizens to remain indoors "until the situation becomes clearer."

amp,ap,ls/sms (Reuters, AP)