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(FILES) This file photo taken on November 13, 2017 shows Army General Constantino Chiwenga Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces addressing a media conference held at the Zimbabwean Army Headquarters in Harare.  AFP PHOTO / Jekesai NJIKIZANA

Zimbabwe’s ruling party on Tuesday accused the army chief of “treasonable conduct” after he challenged President Robert Mugabe over the sacking of the vice president, in the latest sign of worsening instability in the country.

The ZANU-PF party criticised General Constantino Chiwenga who had demanded that Mugabe stop purges of senior party figures, including Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa who was dismissed last week.

In a statement, the party spokesman said Chiwenga’s stance was “clearly calculated to disturb national peace… and suggests treasonable conduct on his part as this was meant to incite insurrection.”

On Tuesday, several tanks were seen moving near the capital Harare, alarming residents as Chiwenga had warned of possible military intervention.

“When it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” Chiwenga told a press conference on Monday.

The reason for the military convoys was not immediately clear, but the vehicles may have been on routine manoeuvres.

The military spokesman was not available to comment.

Mnangagwa had clashed repeatedly with First Lady Grace Mugabe, 52, who was widely seen as vying with him to succeed her 93-year-old husband as president.

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Zimbabwe's army chief accused of 'treasonable conduct'

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