Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe is likely to be forced to hand power to his sacked vice president in a few weeks to make today's coup appear legal, experts have claimed.
The 93-year-old's grip on the country appears over after he was detained in his own home when the military seized control in what it described as a 'bloodless correction' overnight.
His wife, dubbed Gucci Grace for her love of shopping, is believed to have fled to Namibia having been allowed to leave the country last night, opposition MP Eddie Cross told the BBC. Her location has not yet been confirmed.
Deposed vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, a veteran of Zimbabwe's 1970s liberation wars who was sacked by Mugabe earlier this month, is believed to have returned from exile.
The dismissal of Mnangagwa, nicknamed the Crocodile, had left Grace Mugabi, 52, in prime position to succeed her husband as the next president - a succession strongly opposed by senior ranks in the military.
Derek Matyszak, an analyst at the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies, said he believes the army will now be in negotiations with both Mugabe and Mnangagwa.