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AU chair: Zimbabwe situation must be resolved democratically

The military has taken over control of key state entities in South Africa’s northern neighbour.

An armoured personnel carrier at an intersection as Zimbabwean soldiers regulate traffic in Harare on 15 November 2017. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The African Union (AU) has appealed to leaders in Zimbabwe to address the political uncertainty in the country in line with the Constitution.

The military has taken over control of key state entities in South Africa’s northern neighbour, saying it was targeting “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe (93) who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980.

WATCH: What you need to know about Robert Mugabe

Chairperson of the AU commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has stressed it's crucial the crisis is resolved democratically.

He adds the African body, along with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), is committed to helping where it can.

Mahamat says he’s closely following the developments in Zimbabwe.

He has urged stakeholders to address the current situation with the relevant instruments of the AU, including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

“The chairperson of the commission stresses that it is crucial that the crisis is resolved in a manner that promotes democracy and human rights, as well as the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe,” a statement reads.

Mahamat says the AU associates itself with the statement made by President Jacob Zuma on behalf of SADC.

GALLERY: On the ground in Zimbabwe

On Wednesday Zuma, in his capacity as chair of SADC, sent special envoys to Zimbabwe and Angola in light of the unfolding situation.

Zuma spoke to Mugabe earlier on Wednesday who indicated that he was confined to his home but said that he was fine. South Africa is also in contact with the ZDF.

"The special envoys will also be sent to the Republic of Angola to the Republic of Angola to see President Joao Lourenco, chairperson of the SADC organ on politics, defence and security to brief him on the situation.”

Meanwhile, the army insisted Mugabe and his family were safe.

According to Reuters, a senior source said the president insisted that he remained Zimbabwe’s only legitimate ruler, and was resisting mediation by a Catholic priest to allow a graceful exit after the military coup.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)