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Saturday July 20th, 2019 8:13PM

The Latest: Zimbabwe former minister: Mugabe should 'rest'

By The Associated Press
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HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — The Latest on the military takeover in Zimbabwe (all times local):

2:55 p.m.

A former Zimbabwe finance minister and current activist says of President Robert Mugabe: "The old man should be allowed to rest."

Tendai Biti spoke to South African broadcaster eNCA as the 93-year-old Mugabe was said to be in army custody after an unprecedented public rift with the military.

Zimbabweans are hoping that whatever happens next will occur without bloodshed.

Biti says that Mugabe is a "very intelligent man who must know the die is cast."

___

1:45 p.m.

South Africa's president says he hopes Zimbabwe's military will respect the constitution "so the situation will not go beyond the situation where it is now."

President Jacob Zuma addressed the nation on television not long after speaking with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe. Zuma said Mugabe is "fine" but confined to his home after the army appeared to take control.

Zuma says he hopes the situation in the neighboring country "is going to be controlled." His office has said he is sending his defense and security ministers to meet with Mugabe and Zimbabwe's army.

___

1:10 p.m.

The head of Zimbabwe's influential war veterans association says they stand with the army and that President Robert Mugabe should be recalled as president and ruling party leader.

Victor Matemadanda told reporters in the capital, Harare, that the country has been sliding into a "state of chaos."

He says the ruling party should establish a commission of inquiry into Mugabe and why he decided to let his wife insult veterans and the armed forces.

___

12:55 p.m.

South Africa's president says he has spoken with Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and that the 93-year-old leader is confined to his home but is "fine."

A statement by President Jacob Zuma's office continues to refer to Mugabe as Zimbabwe's president.

Zuma is sending South Africa's ministers of defense and state security to Zimbabwe to meet with Mugabe and the military there.

Zuma is calling for calm.

___

12:10 p.m.

South African President Jacob Zuma, as leader of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, has "noted with great concern" the unfolding political situation in neighboring Zimbabwe.

Zuma, in a statement issued from his office Wednesday, called for "restraint and calm" and "expressed hope that developments in Zimbabwe would not lead to unconstitutional changes of government as that would be contrary to both SADC and African Union positions."

Zuma urged all members of the Zimbabwe government and the military to "resolve the political impasse amicably." The South African president said southern Africa's regional body will "closely monitor the situation and remains ready to assist where necessary."

___

9:25 a.m.

In the wake of the military takeover in Zimbabwe, the national police force has recalled all officers on leave. A top police official who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press told The Associated Press that all police on leave have been ordered to return to their posts immediately.

___

8:30 a.m.

Zimbabwe's army said Wednesday it has President Robert Mugabe and his wife in custody and is securing government offices and patrolling the capital's streets following a night of unrest that included a military takeover of the state broadcaster.

The night's action triggered speculation of a coup, but the military's supporters praised it as a "bloodless correction."

Overnight three explosions were heard in the capital, Harare, and military vehicles were seen in the streets.

The military actions appear to put the army in control of the country.

___

AP journalist Farai Mutsaka in Harare, contributed to this report.

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