With just under 4 months before the holding of General and Presidential Elections, President Ernest Bai Koroma in Sierra Leone has effected some administrative changes at the National Army and Police and Diplomatic Missions in Liberia, Gambia and Nigeria.
In a rather surprising move, the head of the country’s Army, Lieutenant General John Milton was replaced and appointed instead as the new Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria.
He is being replaced by Major General Brima Sesay who was promoted last March to the rank of Major General by President Koroma.
A press statement from the Sierra Leone Presidency issued in Freetown on Wednesday also announced the replacement of the Police Inspector Francis Munu by his Deputy Richard Moigbe.
Mr. Munu now goes to neighboring Liberia as his country’s Ambassador.
All of the new Presidential appointees will have to obtain Parliamentary approval.
West African Journal Magazine is monitoring reports of military movements in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe.
According to reports on international wire services and social media, which are still unconfirmed, Army Chief General Constantino Chiwenga has reportedly given President Robert G. Mugabe 24 hours to resign his office.
This follows President Mugabe’s dismissal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week. Reports say army units have been moving tanks into and around the center of the capital Harare and that the national broadcaster was surrounded.
General Chiwenga, in a statement on Monday, demanded a “stop” to the purge in the ruling Zanu-PF party after the sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangangwa, and warned the military could intervene.
“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,” Chiwenga told top army officials on Monday at the King George VI military headquarters in Harare.
The East Afrika Daily website reports that President Mugabe was chairing a regular cabinet meeting on Tuesday and has made no comment.
There has been tension in the ruling Zanu-PF party amidst internal feuding and talk of plans by the veteran Zimbabwean leader to have his wife and First Lady Grace Mugabe replace him.
Witnesses are quoted as saying they have seen uniformed soldiers posted at various street corners on Tuesday. There are fears that a military coup is underway.
A Zanu-PF Youth League official, at a news conference on Tuesday, says party youths are prepared to come out in their “millions” to defend the Mugabe regime from a military coup and accused the Army Chief General Chiwenga of collaborating with dismissed former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to topple President Mugabe and seize power.
Opposition member and former Finance Minister in a Twitter post blasted the latest developments in Zimbabwe saying, ” the overwhelming presence of the army on our streets is totally unwelcome and reflective of the unraveling of the securocratic State. We all know none of them have the guts to carry out a coup. So Army presence should not be the regime’s excuse for declaring a State of Emergency.”
Meantime, the ruling ANC in neighboring South Africa says it will not intervene in the crisis in Zimbabwe. The BBC quotes ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, who spoke at a news conference on Tuesday, as saying that the party would be concerned if “things go wrong there because it will impact on us”.
In the latest attempt at pushback at the show of force and challenging comments against President Mugabe by the military, the ruling Zanu-PF is accusing the Zimbabwe Army Chief General Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct”.
The 93 year old and now frail Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980. He and some of his ministers remain under US and EU sanctions which have crippled the country’s economy.