partlycloudy
Tuesday November 21st, 2017 8:54AM

Military now in Zimbabwe's capital after army chief's threat

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — At least three explosions were heard in Zimbabwe's capital early Wednesday and military vehicles were seen in the streets after the army commander threatened to "step in" to calm political tensions over 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe's possible successor. The ruling party accused the commander of "treasonable conduct."

The U.S. Embassy closed to the public and encouraged citizens to shelter in place, citing "the ongoing political uncertainty through the night." The British embassy issued a similar warning, citing "reports of unusual military activity."

For the first time, this southern African nation is seeing an open rift between the military and Mugabe, the world's oldest head of state who has ruled since independence from white minority rule in 1980. The military has been a key pillar of his power.

The Associated Press saw armed soldiers assaulting passers-by in the early morning hours in Harare, as well as soldiers loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles. The explosions could be heard near the University of Zimbabwe campus. The developments came several hours after the AP saw three armored personnel carriers in a convoy heading toward an army barracks just outside the capital.

Mugabe 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.

The first lady now appears positioned to replace Mnangagwa as one of the country's two vice presidents at a special conference of the ruling party in December, leading many in Zimbabwe to suspect that she could succeed her husband. Grace Mugabe is unpopular with some Zimbabweans because of lavish spending as many struggle, and four people accused of booing her at a recent rally were arrested.

The president reportedly attended a weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday as the military vehicles were first sighted. It was not clear where his wife was.

On Monday, army commander Constantino Chiwenga issued an unprecedented statement saying purges against senior ruling ZANU-PF party officials, many of whom like Mnangagwa fought for liberation, should end "forthwith."

"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," the army commander said. The state-run broadcaster did not report on his statement.

Showing a generational divide, the ruling party's youth league, aligned with the 52-year-old first lady, on Tuesday criticized the army commander's comments, saying youth were "ready to die for Mugabe."

On Tuesday night the ruling party issued a statement accusing the army commander of "treasonable conduct," saying his comments were "clearly calculated to disturb national peace and stability" and were "meant to incite insurrection." It was not clear whether the commander still had his post.

State broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation read out part of the ruling party statement late in the nightly news, which was led by a report on regional tourism.

The army spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

"Yes, given the past two weeks' political events, it is tempting to speculate that there is a connection between the deployment of military personnel and the comments of the army chief of staff on an 'intervention' - but there are very real dangers of violence breaking out as a result of rampant and unfounded speculation," African Defence Review analyst Conway Waddington wrote Tuesday evening, saying there appeared to be no other signs of an "organized coup" and that it could have been an act of intimidation instead.

Mugabe in the past has warned military commanders from interfering in succession politics. "Politics shall always lead the gun, and not the gun politics. Otherwise it will be a coup," he told supporters in July.

Frustration has been growing in once-prosperous Zimbabwe as the economy collapses under Mugabe. The country was shaken last year by the biggest anti-government protests in a decade, and a once-loyal war veterans association turned on the president, calling him "dictatorial" and blaming him for the economic crisis.

"Mnangagwa was held out by many as the best hope within ZANU-PF for piloting an economic recovery," analyst Piers Pigou with the International Crisis Group wrote Tuesday.

Now, "Mugabe will have to employ all his guile if he intends to ensure continued accommodation with the armed forces."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Military now in Zimbabwe's capital after army chief's threat
Military moves into Zimbabwe capital after army commander's threat to 'step in' amid turmoil
8:47PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Sessions denies lying on Russia, pleads hazy memory
Sessions cites a hazy memory and exhausting campaign in defending himself from allegations that he misled members of Congress about Russia
8:41PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Gunman targets people at random in California town, kills 4
Authorities say the quick decision to lock the doors of a Northern California elementary school after staffers heard gunfire was "monumental" in saving the lives of countless children
8:41PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Videos lead defense opening in Bundy standoff trial in Vegas
A federal jury got a first look at videos of confrontations involving armed federal agents and Bundy family members that rancher Cliven Bundy's lawyer said provided a catalyst for an April 2014 gunpoint standoff and a trial now underway in Las Vegas
7:42PM ( 1 hour ago )
Police search for mental patient tried for Hawaii murder
Authorities say a Hawaii man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity escaped from the state psychiatric hospital and caught a flight from Maui to an unknown destination
7:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
BC-10 Things to Know for Wednesday
Among 10 Things to Know: Attorney general denies ever lying about Trump campaign's dealings with Russians; four dead, several injured in California shooting rampage; consumer safety group unveils 'worst toys' list.
6:56PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Gunman picking random targets kills 4 in Northern California
Gunman who chose targets at random opens fire in rural California town, kills 4
6:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: McConnell: GOP still hopes to keep Alabama seat
The Senate's top Republican says the party still hopes to retain an Alabama Senate seat at the center of a scandal involving GOP nominee Roy Moore
6:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trump in Asia: A break from the past but uncertain results
President Donald Trump returns from 12-day trip to Asia with few concrete accomplishments in hand and leaving uncertain Asian capitals in his wake.
5:33PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Indian city rounds up beggars ahead of visit by Ivanka Trump
Authorities in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad are rounding up beggars ahead of a visit by U.S. presidential adviser and daughter Ivanka Trump
7:47PM ( 1 hour ago )
UN says better protections needed from mine water disasters
The UN environment program says a string of mining waste disasters _ some deadly _ over the past decade show better protections are needed for communities downstream of massive polluted material storage sites
7:05PM ( 1 hour ago )
House passes bill to renew flood insurance program
The House has passed legislation that will increase flood insurance premiums for many property owners to help firm up a program under stress from ever-more frequent and powerful storms
6:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Documents: Puerto Rico utility ignored advice on repair deal
Newly released documents show that Puerto Rico's bankrupt electric utility ignored advice from its own lawyers before signing a $300 million contract with a tiny Montana company to repair its damaged power grid
3:57PM ( 4 hours ago )
Senate GOP insisting on Obamacare repeal for tax overhaul
Senate Republicans said Tuesday they are intent on a repeal of the Obama health care law requirement that Americans get health insurance, as a way to pay for cuts in corporate taxes and individual rates
3:28PM ( 5 hours ago )
Stocks decline in afternoon trade; oil price falls sharply
Energy stocks are posting losses in late-afternoon trading, helping drag the broader market modestly lower and erasing the small gains the market made a day earlier.
3:26PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
The Latest: Trump leaves uncertain Asia capitals in his wake
For all the pageantry and promises on his lengthy Asia trip, President Donald Trump is returning to Washington with few concrete accomplishments in hand and leaving uncertain Asian capitals in his wake
2:12PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump heads home with few solid accomplishments
For all the pageantry and promises on his lengthy Asia trip, President Donald Trump is returning to Washington with few concrete accomplishments in hand and leaving uncertain Asian capitals in his wake
12:58PM ( 7 hours ago )
UK lawmakers battle over Brexit amid customs chaos warning
A fragile government, a legislative minefield and a jittery economy are turning up the tension as Britain tries to turn its vote to leave the European Union into a reality
12:20PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Raiders mark new chapter with Vegas stadium groundbreaking
The Oakland Raiders have broken ground on a new stadium in Las Vegas, just across the freeway from the city's world-famous casinos
3:49AM ( 17 hours ago )
Asia shares lower, Nikkei flat as China data disappoints
Asian shares lower in languid trading following lackluster manufacturing data from China
1:24AM ( 19 hours ago )
Raiders break ground on 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas
The Oakland Raiders are breaking ground on their new 65,000-seat domed stadium in Las Vegas
12:08AM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Business - Financial Markets
Sessions denies lying on Russia, pleads hazy memory
Sessions cites a hazy memory and exhausting campaign in defending himself from allegations that he misled members of Congress about Russia
8:41PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Gunman targets people at random in California town, kills 4
Authorities say the quick decision to lock the doors of a Northern California elementary school after staffers heard gunfire was "monumental" in saving the lives of countless children
8:41PM ( 12 minutes ago )
The Latest: US to citizens in Zimbabwe: 'Shelter in place'
The Latest: US Embassy in Zimbabwe encourages citizens to 'shelter in place' amid turmoil
8:23PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Harvey Weinstein sued for sexual battery by actress
Unnamed actress sues Harvey Weinstein and his former company for sexual battery
8:14PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Speeding games on MLB agenda for next season
Major League Baseball is intent on shortening games next season after nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes
8:05PM ( 47 minutes ago )