Military coup in Zimbabwe takes away control from Mugabe

President Mugabe has been stripped from his position as President of Zimbabwe after the military stepped in to cancel the ruler’s plans of making his wife future leader of the country.

The rule of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe seemed to be over on Wednesday after the military seized control of the country. The return of the government’s main opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai to Zimbabwe – who had been receiving cancer treatment abroad – signalled an effort to form a transitional government. A senior member of Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party said a deal had been struck about a new administration after talks with military leaders and South African ministers.

There is no indication, however, that Mugabe plans to step down from power quietly after not making any public statement since the military took over. The ninety-three year old leader, who has been placed under house arrest in the country’s capital Harare, had been in control of Zimbabwe since it gained independence from Britain in 1980.

It seems that the reason behind the military’s decision to step in is due to the power struggle over who might succeed Mugabe. This question had split the governing party Zanu-PF during the last few months between those in favour of the President’s wife Grace Mugabe and her rival former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s anti-colonial struggle and of Zanu-PF. Last week, President Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa in order to ease his wife’s move into power, which proved too much for military leaders, who decided to act fast.

Tendai Biti, a Zimbabwean opposition leader, explained he wanted to see a transitional authority in place. “It is urgent that we go back to democracy. It is urgent that we go back to legitimacy but we need a transitional period”. However, a transitional government might not be as easy to form as it is thought, with Mugabe insisting he remains Zimbabwe’s legitimate ruler and that he should serve out his term, which finishes next year.

Several tanks and other military vehicles have been spotted at key locations around Herare, but residents have described the environment as “calm”. The streets have been said to be “quieter than usual”, but traffic levels are the same as they usually are and people have been going by their day to day life.

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