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Zimbabwe police fire teargas to break up war veterans' march

19 February 2016, 10:58

Harare - Zimbabwean police Thursday fired water cannon and teargas to disperse a group of war veterans planning to march over escalating feuding in the battle to succeed President Robert Mugabe, witnesses said.

The veterans of the 1970s liberation war, known for their loyalty to Mugabe, are divided over who should succeed the 91-year-old leader.

Police dispersed a faction that had gathered in a sports centre in Harare before a planned march to the headquarters of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party in the city.

The group wanted to voice their anger at the ongoing divisions in the debate about Mugabe's succession.

Police have in the past allowed protests by the once-formidable force that fought in the country's liberation war in the 1970s.

Also Read: Mugabe's ex-deputy sets up rival Zimbabwe party

A small group of veterans, some wearing ZANU-PF colours and joined by youth activists were dispersed by police in anti-riot gear, according to an AFP correspondent.

ZANU-PF is riven by factional fights between two main groups, one named G-40, made up of supporters under the age of 40 aligned to Mugabe's wife Grace, and another section loyal to vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mnangagwa has long been seen as Mugabe's heir, while Grace 50, who was appointed leader of the powerful ZANU-PF women's wing in 2014, has also shown political ambitions.

Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980 and turns 92 on Sunday, has avoided naming a successor, at one point saying there was no one in his party fit to succeed him.

However, jockeying over his successor has intensified over the recent years, due to his advanced age and speculation about his health.


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