Military outside capital after army chief's threat
Zimbabwe was on edge yesterday as armored personnel carriers were seen outside the capital a day after the army commander threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over the president's possible successor, and the ruling party accused the commander of "treasonable conduct".
The Associated Press saw three armored personnel carriers with several soldiers in a convoy heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital, Harare. While military vehicle movement there is routine, the timing heightened unease in this southern African country that for the first time is seeing an open rift between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe. The military has been a key pillar of Mugabe's power since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state, last week fired Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa and accused him of plotting to take power, including through witchcraft. Mnangagwa, who enjoyed the military's backing and once was seen as a potential president, fled the country and said he had been threatened. Over 100 senior officials allegedly supporting him have been listed for disciplinary measures by a faction associated with Mugabe's wife, Grace.