Several tanks were seen moving on the outskirts of the Zimbabwean capital Harare Tuesday, witnesses told AFP, a day after the army warned it could intervene over a purge of ruling party officials.
“I saw a long convoy of military vehicles, including tanks, about an hour ago. I don’t know where they were heading,” a female fruit seller near Westgate shopping centre, about 10 kilometres (six miles) from central Harare, told AFP.
A second female by-stander at the shopping centre also told the AFP reporter that she had seen the convoy.
The reason for the military presence was not immediately clear, but the vehicles may have been on routine manoeuvres.
Zimbabwe’s army chief General Constantino Chiwenga on Monday warned President Robert Mugabe to “stop” purges of the ruling ZANU-PF party after he abruptly sacked vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa last week.
Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with First Lady Grace Mugabe who is widely seen as vying to replace her 93-year-old husband when he dies.
Both the ruling party’s youth wing and the main opposition party have called for civilian rule to be protected, while analysts called the crisis a potential turning point.