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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

TANZANIA - JANUARY 01: From The Left: One Of The Leaders Of The Rhodesian Fighting Forces Robert Mugabe, The Secretary For Information And Deputy Of The African National Congress (Anc) Georges Silundika And The Leader Of The Zapu Party (Zimbabwe African People Union) Joshua Nkomo At A Meeting In Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania In The 60'S. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
© Getty

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

Robert Mugabe, an African leader taking part in the Rhodesia conference in Geneva, jokingly puts up his fists as he encounters newsmen, Nov. 4, 1974. (AP Photo)
© AP

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

Guerrilla leaders Joshua Nkomo (L) and Robert Mugabe (R) signing the Rhodesia ceasefire agreement for the Patriotic Front at Lancaster House in London.
© PA

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

ZIMBABWE - APRIL 16: President Canaan Banana (right) and Prime Minister Robert Mugabe attend the ceremony for the independence of Zimbabwe in Salisbury, Zimbabwe on April 16, 1980. (Photo by Jean-Claude FRANCOLON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
© Jean-Claude Francolon/Getty

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

Smiling happily, Robert Mugabe, Rhodesian President Designate and his Ghanaian wife, Sally, hold hands in the rose garden of their Salisbury bungalow, Zimbabwe, on March 6, 1980, during a brief interlude between continuous business visits as Mugabe worked at forming a Government following his party’s landslide electoral victory. (AP Photo/Louise Gubb)
© AP

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

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher shaking hands with Zimbabwe Prime Minister Robert Mugabe outside 10 Downing Street, London, May 9th 1980. (Photo by Monti Spry/Central Press/Getty Images)
© Getty

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

LIBYA - AUGUST 05: Summit of OAU (Organisation of African Unity) in Tripoli, Lybia on August 07, 1982 - Zimbabwe Prime Minister Robert Mugabe, and Lybia's President Muammar Gaddafi. (Photo by Daniel SIMON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
© Daniel Simon/Getty

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

BIO-MUGABE-ANC...Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Robert Mugabe (C) leaves 21 May 1986 the scene of the African National Congress (ANC) offices that were bombed 19 May by a South African commando. ANC led the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. Mugabe, Zimbabwean first Premier (in 1980) and President (in 1987), was born in Kutama in 1924 (formerly Southern Rhodesia). Largely self-educated, he became a teacher. After a short periods in the National Democratic Party and Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU) he co-found, in 1963, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU). After a 10-year detention in Rhodesia (1964-74), he spent five years in Mozambique gathering support in preparation for independence in 1980.
© AFP

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

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh stand with President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe (L) shortly before he reviewed a guard of honour May 17 - PBEAHUNGRCF
© Reuters

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

President Bill Clinton gestures while talking to Zimbabwe Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in the Colonnades of the White House, Washington Thursday, May 18, 1995, after their Oval Office meeting. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
© Greg Gibson/AP

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

South African President Nelson Mandela (L) and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe are garlanded by girls after Mandela's arrival in Harare for a three-day state visit 19 May. Mandela will have two streets named in his honor and will become the first foreign head of state to address Zimbabwe's parliament. / AFP PHOTO / DAVID BRAZIER (Photo credit should read DAVID BRAZIER/AFP/Getty Images)
© David Brazier/AFP/Getty

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

File photo dated 24/10/97 of Tony Blair (left) and Robert Mugabe, whose legacy as one of the most ruthless tyrants of modern times will remain long after his days as notorious statesman of Zimbabwe are over. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday November 15, 2017. What could turn out to be the 93-year-old leader's final night in charge of the troubled south African nation concluded in typically chaotic fashion with the army saying it had Mugabe and his ambitious wife Grace in custody following a takeover of the state broadcaster. See PA story POLITICS Zimbabwe Profile. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
© PA

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

ZIMBABWE - MARCH 15: Independance war veterans rename Parklands Farm, 25 kilometers south west of the capital Harare 15 March 2000 after liberation war hero Josiah Tongogara. There has been resurgence of invasions of white owned farms by Zimbabwe's independance war veterans and only President Robert Mugabe can put a stop to them. (Photo credit should read PAUL CADENHEAD/AFP/Getty Images)
© Paul Cadenhead/AFP/Getty

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

HEADLANDS, ZIMBABWE: Dup Muller, 59, a commercial farmer in Headlands, 110 kilometers, (70 miles) East of Harare, shows his 17th. century clock, 11 August 2002, that was destroyed when his farm house was burnt by suspected war veterans. Scores of white Zwimbabwean farmers have reportedly fled into hiding to avoid arrest as police continued to crack down on them for defying a government order to leave their farms, police said 21 August 2002. AFP PHOTO AARON UFUMELI (Photo credit should read AARON UFUMELI/AFP/Getty Images)
© 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

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), speaks at a political rally held at the Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, February 2002. (Photo by Ann Johansson/Corbis via Getty Images)
© Ann Johansson/Getty

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

President Robert Mugabe greets supporters at his final rally. Mugabe used his campaign speech in Harare on June 26, 2008 on the eve of Zimbabwe's election to make a fresh offer to negotiate with the opposition after the ballot. AFP PHOTO / Alexander Joe (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER JOE/AFP/Getty Images)
© Alexander Joe/AFP/Getty

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

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe (L) exchanges documents with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai (R) after signing a power-sharing deal at Rainbow Towers hotel in Harare September 15, 2008. Mugabe signed a power-sharing agreement with opposition rival Tsvangirai on Monday, relinquishing some of his powers for the first time in nearly three decades of iron rule. Looking on is King Mswati of Swaziland (C). REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo (ZIMBABWE) - GM1E49F1ORF01
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

A Zimbabwean holds a newly issued fifty million dollar note at a street traders stand in the capital Harare April 4, 2008. The country is suffering a severe economic and political crisis with official inflation figures at over 100,000 per cent. The new note is worth the equivalent of three loaves of bread. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (ZIMBABWE) - GM1E4441RJU01
© Mike Hutchings/Reuters

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

President Robert Mugabe kisses his wife and first lady Grace Mugabe during during the country's 37th Independence Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium in Harare April 18, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA (Photo credit should read JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)
© 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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