MPs warned that Zimbabwe is a ‘seething mass of hatred’ today amid an apparent coup against Robert Mugabe.
Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames said the dictator’s decades-long grip on power was ‘coming to an end’.
He said the ruling ZANU PF party was a ‘seething mass of hatred’ and Emmerson Mnangagwa was set to take over.
First Lady: Grace Mugabe, 52, pictured with her husband, has been seen as being a successor to her husband after her opponent was fired
This was the scene in the centre of Harare in Zimbabwe this morning as soldiers patrolled the streets after a ‘bloodless transition’ of power
Zimbabwe’s military stormed the country’s national broadcaster’s studios last night to declare there was no coup after explosions and gunfire were heard in the capital
The comments came as dramatic scenes unfolded in Zimbabwe, with the army pouring on to the streets and storming state TV studios.
This morning, a Twitter account belonging to the country’s ruling party claimed Mugabe, 93, and his family were being ‘detained and are safe, both for the constitution and the sanity of the nation’.
It claimed that the ‘elderly’ president had been ‘taken advantage of by his wife’, Grace, who had been seen as a possible successor to her husband.
Former vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, a veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s liberation wars who was sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, has returned from exile and is said to have been named ZANU PF’s new interim president.
It is not clear who is now in charge of the Twitter account.
British citizens in the country have been warned to stay indoors until calm is restored.
Sir Nicholas, whose father was governor of Rhodesia before it secured independence and became Zimbabwe, said he met Mugabe on a recent trip to the country.
Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames said Mugabe’s era appeared to be ending
He said the tyrant had seemed ‘tired’ and unwell, but still in control of the levers of power.
But he said the Mugabe era now appeared to be coming to an end.
‘It is a seething mass of hatred and loathing within the ZANU PF party,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
‘It looks to me like this is the return of Mnangagwa faction.’
Sir Nicholas stressed the picture was currently ‘very very confused’.
But he added: ‘If it is not a coup then it is certainly its first cousin… I think it is a sign of Mugabe’s time coming to an end.’
British nationals in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare are being advised to stay indoors amid reports of ‘unusual military activity’.
The Foreign Office issued emergency guidance for British nationals in the early hours of today following political tensions in the African country.
‘Due to the uncertain political situation in Harare, including reports of unusual military activity, we recommend British nationals currently in Harare to remain safely at home or in their accommodation until the situation becomes clearer,’ the guidance said.
A military tank is seen with armed soldiers on the road leading to President Robert Mugabe’s office in Harare, Zimbabwe