South Africa urges resistance to military takeover in Zimbabwe

South Africa on Wednesday urged neighbouring Zimbabwe to resist any “unconstitutional changes” of government as President Robert Mugabe’s grip on power appeared threatened by the military.

President Jacob Zuma “has expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government,” said a statement released in Pretoria.

Zuma appealed for “the country to resolve the political impasse amicably and has urged the Zimbabwean defence force to ensure … the maintenance of peace,” it added.

South Africa is an influential neighbour of Zimbabwe, with millions of Zimbabweans living in the country to seek work and flee Mugabe’s regime.

Mugabe’s decades-long grip on power has been dramatically weakened after military vehicles blocked roads outside the parliament in Harare and senior soldiers delivered a late-night television address to the nation.

The generals denied staging a coup but vowed to target “criminals” close to President Robert Mugabe.

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