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Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader, is facing an unprecedented challenge from senior military figures who are thought to oppose his wife’s political ambitions. The military has seized control of the country and is holding Mr Mugabe in what it says is a ”safe” location

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Mr Mugabe with George Silundika of the African National Congress and Joshua Nkomo, leader of the Zimbabwe African People Union, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the 1960s

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The leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union arrives for a conference about the future of Rhodesia in Geneva and jokingly puts up his fists as he encounters journalists in November 1974

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Mr Nkomo, left, and Mr Mugabe sign the Rhodesia ceasefire accord in December 1979 as part of the Lancaster House agreement in which Britain formally recognised the republic of Zimbabwe

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President Canaan Banana, right, and Mr Mugabe at an independence ceremony in Salisbury in April 1980

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Mr Mugabe with Sally, his Ghanaian wife, in the rose garden of their bungalow in Salisbury in 1980 when he was working to form a government. The city was renamed Harare in 1982

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Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister, greets Mr Mugabe at 10 Downing Street in May 1980

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Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, meets Mr Mugabe for a summit of the Organisation of African Unity in Tripoli in August 1982


Mr Mugabe outside offices of the African National Congress in Harare that were bombed by South African special forces in May 1986

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Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh with Mr Mugabe before the Zimbabwean leader reviewed a guard of honour in London in May 1994

© Greg Gibson/AP

President Bill Clinton talks to Mr Mugabe at the White House after a meeting in May 1995

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Nelson Mandela, left, is welcomed by Mr Mugabe on a state visit to Harare in May 1997

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Tony Blair, UK prime minister, chats with Mr Mugabe at the Commonwealth Summit in Edinburgh in 1997

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War veterans rename Parklands Farm, near Harare, after Josiah Tongogara, a liberation war hero, in March 2000 after Mr Mugabe introduced land reforms that led to invasions of white-owned properties

© Aaron Ufumeli/AFP/Getty

Dup Muller, a farmer in Headlands, east of Harare, surveys damage to his home at the hands of war veterans in August 2002

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Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, addresses an election rally in Chitungwiza in February 2002

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Mr Mugabe at a rally in Harare in June 2008 on the eve of Zimbabwe’s election

Mr Mugabe, left, exchanges documents with Mr Tsvangirai, after signing a power-charing deal in Harare in September 2008. © Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

Mr Mugabe, left, exchanges documents with Mr Tsvangirai after signing a power-charing deal in Harare in September 2008. King Mswati of Swaziland is looking on

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Three loaves of bread cost $Z50m at a street market in Harare in 2008, with inflation running above 100,000 per cent

© Jekesai Njikizana/AFP/Getty

Mr Mugabe kisses Grace, his wife and first lady, during the 37th Independence Day celebrations in Harare in April this year

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