In Zimbabwe, the military has placed President Robert Mugabe under house arrest and locked down the capital Harare.
The army and its supporters are calling the move a “bloodless correction” rather than a coup. African Union leader Alpha Conde, however, expressed concern that “clearly soldiers (are) trying to take power by force.”
The action comes a week after Mugabe fired his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, in what some believed was meant to allow his wife Grace to succeed him. Mugabe has been president since 1987, and before that the country’s prime minister.
The controversial 93-year-old garnered praise for helping free Zimbabwe from British colonialism, but critics say his authoritarian regime is corrupt and has committed human rights violations.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said he spoke to Mugabe, who was confined to his home but doing fine.
Zuma urged calm to its northern neighbor and said, “I am hoping that the defense force will be able to respect the constitution of Zimbabwe as well as the people of Zimbabwe so that this situation does not go beyond the situation where it is now.”
The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe has instructed personnel to work from home and U.S. citizens to “shelter in place.”
Zimbabwe has a population of about 14 million and an economy dependent on mining and agriculture.