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Army spokesman on state TV denies a military takeover underway
President Robert Mugabe and family "safe," army spokesman says
Zimbabwe’s military leaders have seized control of the impoverished southern African nation, placing longtime leader Robert Mugabe under house arrest and deploying armored vehicles to the streets of the capital, Harare.
Mugabe, 93, the world’s oldest living leader, was unable to leave his home, according to Jacob Zuma, the President of neighboring South Africa. Troops were reportedly stationed at Zimbabwe’s Parliament and the presidential palace.
In a dramatic televised statement early Wednesday, an army spokesman denied a military takeover was underway.
But the situation bore all the hallmarks of a coup: The military was in control of state TV in Harare, a significant army presence was at the city’s international airport, and Mugabe has not been seen in public.
Military in charge: An army spokesman announced on the state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp. at 4 a.m. that it was conducting an operation to target “criminals” close to Mugabe who were causing “social and economic suffering.”
President’s location: The spokesman said Mugabe and his family were “safe.” South Africa’s Zuma later said Mugabe had been confined to his home but was feeling fine. Zuma spoke with Mugabe by phone.
Situation on streets: The capital was quiet, but there were lines outside banks. CNN saw army checkpoints at key locations and armored vehicles on the streets.