Zimbabwe: Army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

Robert Mugabe's wife Grace Mugabe

On Tuesday, several armoured vehicles spotted outside Harare alarmed many residents as Chiwenga had warned of possible military intervention.

In response the party's Youth League accused the military chief of subverting the constitution.

The ruling party will next month hold an extra ordinary congress to reaffirm Mugabe's candidature in next year's presidential elections and also amend the party constitution to allow for a female vice president.

Mnangagwa had always been tipped as Mugabe's most likely successor but has in recent months increasingly come into conflict with first lady Grace Mugabe, who is vying to replace the 93-year-old president.

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Images posted on Twitter showed tanks and trucks loaded with troops, reportedly traveling along the road toward the capital Harare.

Zimbabwe's ruling party described criticism of its conduct by armed forces commander Constantine Chiwenga as "treasonable" and meant to incite insurrection in the southern African nation, deepening the split between the military and 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.

"The current purging, which is clearly targeting members of the party with a liberation background, must stop", said Chiwenga, flanked by senior army personnel.

Mugabe, 93, one of the longest ruling leaders in the world, came to power in 1980 during the country's war of liberation against white-run former British colony Rhodesia.

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'We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in, ' Chiwenga said in a statement read to reporters at a news conference packed with top brass on Monday. 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.

But the 75-year-old former vice-president has powerful military connections, having served as defence and state security minister.

"Chiwenga threw down the gauntlet to Mugabe.it would make sense for Chiwenga to organise some military manoeuvres to up the ante. If he condemns that statement, then he is saying therefore I am for the young turks against the war veterans", said Eldred Masunugure, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

The Zanu-PF issued a statement Tuesday calling Chiwenga's statement treasonous.

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