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Tensions mount in Zimbabwe capital after general threatens to intervene in political affairs

A military presence in parts of Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, on Tuesday sparked fears that generals were carrying out their threat to intervene in the country’s affairs.

Zimbabwe, mired in a political crisis and economic collapse, faced further instability after military leaders led by the head of the armed forces, Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, issued a blunt warning Monday over a purge of ruling party members.

Chiwenga’s statement was a thinly veiled warning that a powerful section of the country’s security apparatus was unlikely to accept President Robert Mugabe’s wife, Grace, as vice president, which would pave the way for her to take power should he die in office.

Mugabe last week sacked his presumed successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, triggering deep unhappiness in the influential military and security sector. But it was the efforts of a faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, allied with Grace Mugabe, to oust dozens of other people associated with Mnangagwa that enraged military leaders.

Chiwenga warned Monday that the purge must stop or the military would be forced to intervene.

Mnangagwa fled the country last week after President Mugabe sacked him. The dismissal came days after Grace Mugabe launched a fierce tirade against Mnangagwa at a church service, comparing him to a snake whose head must be crushed.

Chiwenga’s statement signaled a deepening struggle between Zimbabwe’s organs of power in an authoritarian state: the president and the generals and securocrats who have kept him in power for years.


© 2017 Los Angeles Times

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