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British MP says Britain should not allow Zimbabwe to replace one dictator with another

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was too early to comment on the outcome of events in Zimbabwe, or to be sure exactly how things will unfold.

“The situation is fluid, and I think it would be wrong for us at this stage to comment specifically on any personalities that may be involved, save perhaps to say that this is obviously not a particularly promising development in the political career of Robert Mugabe.

“The important point is that we—including, I think, everyone in the House—want the people of Zimbabwe to have a choice about their future through free and fair elections. That is the consensus that we are building up with our friends and partners, and I shall be having a discussion with the vice-president of South Africa to that effect later today.”

Q and A:

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): Will the Foreign Secretary please make a statement on the situation in Zimbabwe?

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson): In the early hours of this morning, soldiers from the Zimbabwean army deployed in central Harare, taking control of state television, surrounding Government ministries and sealing off Robert Mugabe’s official and private residences. At 1.26 am local time, a military officer appeared on state television and declared that the army was taking what he called “targeted action” against “criminals” around Mugabe. Several Government Ministers, all of them political allies of Grace Mugabe, are reported to have been arrested. At 2.30 am, gunfire was heard in the northern suburb of Harare where Mugabe has a private mansion. Areas of the central business district have been sealed off by armoured personnel carriers.

Our embassy in Harare has been monitoring the situation carefully throughout the night, supported by staff in the Foreign Office. About 20 000 Britons live in Zimbabwe, and I can reassure the House that so far we have received no reports of any British nationals being injured. We have updated our travel advice to recommend that any Britons in Harare should remain in their homes or other accommodation until the situation becomes clearer. All our Zimbabwean and UK-based embassy staff and their families are accounted for.

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