Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Several military tanks and trucks were spotted heading towards the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, prompting fears of a possible coup or show of power by the army.

"The current purging and cleansing process in Zanu-PF which so far is targeting mostly members associated with our liberation history is a serious cause for concern to us in the defense forces", he said apparently stung by the recent dismissal of Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country's vice president.

His downfall appeared to pave the way for Mugabe's wife Grace to succeed the 93-year-old president, the only leader Zimbabwe has known in 37 years of independence.

While it is still unclear who ordered the military movement, it is an apparent step to put pressure on President Mugabe.

Before being ousted, Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with Mugabe's wife Grace, 52, who is widely seen as vying with Mnangagwa to be the next president when Mugabe dies.

This photo taken November 8, 2017, shows Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, left, addressing party members and supporters to show support to Grace Mugabe, right, becoming the party's next vice president after the dismissal of Emerson Mnangagwa.

"May I remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that when it comes to matters of protecting the revolution the military will not hesitate to step in", he said.

The failure of the president to make any statement since the crisis broke suggests he "is not in full control", said Piers Pigou, an expert on Zimbabwe with the International Crisis Group, who is based in neighbouring South Africa.

A Reuters witness saw two other tanks parked beside the main road from Harare to Chinhoyi, about 20 km from the city.

In an incendiary statement, Mugabe's ZANU-PF party accused army chief General Constantino Chiwenga of "treasonable conduct" for challenging Mugabe over the sacking of the vice president.

War veterans broke ranks with him in 2016 and have vowed to form a broad front with the opposition to challenge his long rule.

Grace, now poised to become a vice president, did not fight in the liberation war.

The first lady is a deeply divisive figure in Zimbabwe with limited popular support. When Joice Mujuru, a war veteran and Mugabe's deputy of 10 years, was sacked from the ruling party in 2014, the military remained quiet. Please continue with your lives and face up to your own problems.

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