(Bloomberg) -- Robert Mugabe’s four-decade grip on Zimbabwe is nearing its end, at the hands of the same soldiers who hoisted him to power after the war against the white-minority regime of Rhodesia.
The military takeover carried out early today is a coup in all but name — parliament is closed, soldiers are in the streets and the army says Mugabe’s safety is “guaranteed,” under house arrest.
Mugabe, 93, sealed his fate by firing his deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former spy chief who helped him take power in 1980 and keep it. For armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga, the president and his 52-year-old wife, Grace — who’s commonly known as “Gucci Grace” for her extravagant lifestyle — had gone too far.
After he announced the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution,” the ruling party called Chiwenga’s comments “treasonable” and the die was cast. Hours later armored vehicles appeared on the streets of the capital.
Indications now are that Mugabe is trying to negotiate a graceful way out, while the military says it’s rounding up the “criminals around him.” His administration is a shell of its former self — like the country he led to ruin.
Sessions session | U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions denied he misled Congress about contacts with Russia by President Donald Trump’s campaign, saying he forgot about a meeting that’s emerged in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe. Democrats questioned his memory lapse, while Republicans pressed him to name another special counsel to look into topics that Trump and his supporters want to explore against Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
Tax bill targets Obamacare | Congressional leaders cleared the way to vote on their tax bill tomorrow as Senate tax writers released a draft of their version that eliminates the Obamacare requirement for people to have health coverage. It also ends breaks for small businesses and the middle class in 2026, while a corporate tax-rate cut to 20 percent would be permanent. That approach may be a problem for Trump and the Republicans who have pitched the overhaul as benefiting average Americans.
Finger on the button | U.S. lawmakers from both parties are scrutinizing Trump’s power to launch nuclear weapons. In a hearing yesterday, Senators cited concerns about Trump considering a preemptive strike on North Korea as well as comments from National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster that the president isn’t ruling out a “preventive war.” The American people “realize that Donald Trump can launch nuclear codes just as easily as he can use his Twitter account,” Democrat Ed Markey said.
China reaches out to Kim | Days after hosting Trump in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping is dispatching a high-level official to North Korea for the first time in more than a year. While Beijing traditionally briefs allies of the Communist party after its once-in-five-year leadership reshuffle, Xi may want to send a warning on Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program as well.
Escape from Yemen | The Saudi-led bombing campaign against Iran-linked Yemeni rebels has killed or wounded at least 14,000 people and trapped another 28 million since it began nearly three years ago. With aid agencies warning of the risk of famine and spread of cholera, Nafeesa Syeed follows one man’s flight with his cancer-stricken father. The odyssey casts light on Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who’s planning grand reforms at home but has little to show from his U.S.-backed offensive in the Arab world’s poorest nation.
And finally... Australia looks set to join a growing list of nations that have legalized same-sex marriage after voters emphatically backed the move in a non-binding nationwide postal survey — a process Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisted on even though polls showed most Australians already backed the change. Lawmakers are expected to begin debating legislation as early as Thursday, with Turnbull calling for the new law to be passed by Christmas.
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