The president of Zimbabwe is reported to be “confined to his home” after the country’s military seized power.
South African President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that he spoke to President Robert Mugabe early Wednesday. Mugabe has led Zimbabwe for 37 years.
Zuma’s statement said that the longtime president told him he was confined to his home, but fine. The South African leader added that his country “is also in contact with the Zimbabwean Defense Force.”
The military action follows Mugabe’s dismissal of his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa. The dismissal appeared to position his wife, Grace Mugabe, as Zimbabwe’s next leader.
Robert Mugabe has been in power for 37 years, since the country gained independence in 1980. At the age of 93, he is the world’s oldest head of state. His wife is 51.
Grace Mugabe is unpopular among some Zimbabweans. And Mnangagwa has support from Zimbabwe ’s military.
The head of the military warned that he would “step in” unless Mugabe stopped removing Mnangagwa supporters from his ZANU-PF party. On Tuesday, armed soldiers and tanks took up positions around the capital, Harare.
Not a takeover, army claims
Major General Sibusiso Moyo is a spokesman for the military. In a speech on state television Wednesday, he said the military is targeting “criminals” around Mugabe and, in his words, “this is not a military takeover.”
The general confirmed that the military is holding Mugabe and his wife. He added, “Their security is guaranteed.”
Moyo also said that “as soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
South African President Zuma said he was sending his ministers of defense and state security to meet with Mugabe and the military. Zuma said he hopes Zimbabwe’s army will respect the constitution and that the situation “is going to be controlled.”
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do wrote this report for VOA Learning English. His report was based on stories from VOANews.com, the Associated Press and Reuters. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
confine - v. to keep a person in a place
accomplish - v. to succeed in doing something
mission - n. a specific task or duty