Historically, African takeovers have been seismic and violent, but now participants are more wary of international opinion

It looked like a coup from a movie: a convoy of armoured vehicles, the president under house arrest, and the general on the nation’s screens talking of “restoring stability” in the small hours of the morning.

But since the military takeover in Zimbabwe a week ago events have departed from the script. President Robert Mugabe has not been harmed and remains in power, at least theoretically. When he refused to resign on live television on Sunday night, there were no repercussions. To oust him, parliament are using a cumbersome process of impeachment.

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