The armed forces seized power in Zimbabwe after a week of confrontation with President Robert Mugabe’s government and said the action was needed to stave off violent conflict in the southern African nation that he’s ruled since 1980. 

Mugabe who is extremely anti-gay and described LGBT people as “Worse than pigs and dogs” will step down from power while the military arranges for his safety while he is removed from power but deny the army is staging a Coup.

The Zimbabwe Defense Forces will guarantee the safety of Mugabe, 93, and his family and is only “targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country in order to bring them to justice,” Major-General Sibusiso Moyo said in a televised address in Harare, the capital.

All military leave has been cancelled, he said. Mugabe is preparing to step down, Johannesburg-based News24 reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the situation.

Denying that the action was a military coup, Moyo said: “as soon as we have accomplished our mission we expect the situation to return to normalcy.” He urged the other security services to cooperate and warned that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”

The action came a day after armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga announced that the military would stop “those bent on hijacking the revolution.”

As several armoured vehicles appeared in the capital on Tuesday, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front described Chiwenga’s statements as “treasonable” and intended to incite insurrection. Later in the day, several explosions were heard in the city.

Political Crisis

The military intervention followed a week-long political crisis sparked by Mugabe’s decision to fire his long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa as vice president in a move that paved the way for his wife Grace, 52, and her supporters to gain effective control over the ruling party. Nicknamed “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her extravagant lifestyle, she said on Nov. 5 that she would be prepared to succeed her husband.

The events unfolded as Zimbabwe is in deep crisis. The economy has halved in size since 2000 and the nation has no currency of its own, using mainly the dollar as legal tender. Lines of people waiting to make bank withdrawals snake around city blocks in Harare. Some sleep in the streets to ensure they’re served. An estimated 95 percent of the workforce is jobless and as many as 3 million Zimbabweans have gone into exile.

The country is now under military rule, said Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean law lecturer who is based in the U.K. and helped design Zimbabwe’s 2013 constitution.