In Brief

Zimbabwe coup: Robert Mugabe ‘clinging to power’

As Zimbabweans await news of their President, questions have been raised about China’s role in the military takeover

Robert Mugabe is reportedly refusing to step down as President of Zimbabwe, insisting he remains the only “legitimate head of state” despite a military takeover of his country.

State-run media have released photographs of Mugabe meeting the general believed to have led Wednesday’s coup, while Mugabe’s family and several senior supporters remain under house arrest.

Mugabe has “rejected a proposal under which he would step down allowing Emmerson Mnangagwa … to take over temporarily until elections due to be held next year”, The Independent reports.

Questions about the genesis of the takeover have emerged after it was reported that the head of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantino Guveya Chiwenga, met senior Chinese officials in Beijing last week.

“Chiwenga may have travelled to Beijing to warn China’s leadership of the impending move against Mugabe, or perhaps even to seek its blessing or help,” The Guardian suggests.

The Washington Post says “China’s links to Zimbabwe are long-standing”, dating back to when “then-rebel leader Mugabe turned to Beijing for support after his attempts to get Soviet backing for his Zimbabwe African National Union militant group failed”. 

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