The military in Zimbabwe took over control of the capital, Harare on Wednesday morning, whilst announcing on state TV that the president, Robert Mugabe and his family were "safe and sound."
The take over, which the military denied was a coup, comes amid increasing resentment towards the prospect of power being handed over from the 93 year old Mr Mugabe to his wife, Grace.
“We are only targeting criminals around him (Mugabe) who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Zimbabwe's Major General SB Moyo said on state TV, in an attempt to quash fears of a prolonged military run state.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
The former vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sacked last month to make way for Grace Mugabe, is being seen as a possible leader to take over from the military. Mr Mnangagwa, who has for years been loyal to the Mugabe regime has himself been implicated in a number of human rights abuses and massacres.
The opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change said it hoped the move would bring the “establishment of a stable, democratic and progressive nation state”.
Soldiers have been deployed across the country as the US and UK warned its citizens in Harare to stay off the streets and exercise caution.