Thousands attend anti-Mugabe protest

Protesters have taken to the streets of Harare to demand the resignation of Robert Mugabe. (AAP)

Thousands have marched in Zimbabwe's capital Harare to demand that President Robert Mugabe step down.

Zimbabweans have taken to the streets of the capital Harare in their thousands to demand the resignation of the country's long-ruling president.

People marched as part of a mass action to demand that President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African nation since it gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980, step down.

Carrying signs reading "Mugabe Must Go" and "#Freshstart", jubilant Zimbabweans of all ages showed their opposition to the decades-old Mugabe regime and to celebrate the army's takeover.

Demonstrators also held up banners and posters celebrating army chief Constantine Chiwenga and former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, "Zimbabwe's true liberation heroes".

The Zimbabwe military detained Mugabe on Tuesday night in an apparent coup.

Despite his detention, as well as calls for his resignation from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the 93-year-old has yet to relinquish power.

Tensions erupted in Zimbabwe when Mugabe fired vice-president Mnangagwa last week in an apparent bid to clear the path for his wife Grace Mugabe to eventually take the reins of the presidency.

Mnangagwa, a war veteran who had been a powerful figure within the ruling ZANU-PF party, was seen as the most likely successor to the long-serving president.

The army moved in on Tuesday to detain "criminals around" Mugabe and had taken control of the nation by the following day.

Zimbabwe remains one of the poorest nations in sub-Saharan Africa and subject to hyper-inflation rates that have crippled the country's economy.

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