Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has threatened his former vice president and long-time ally Emmerson Mnangagwa with death, says a report.
Speaking to his supporters outside the ruling Zanu-PF headquarters in Harare on Wednesday, Mugabe said that they were "grave consequences for those who were trying to succeed him", reported New Zimbabwe.com.
The veteran leader said that they were "no short cuts in becoming a leader of the people".
Said Mugabe: "The politics of Zimbabwe have no shortcuts. There are lions along shortcuts. These shortcuts are dangerous and deadly. There are lions there. I am warning you, be careful! You can die."
This came amid reports that the former deputy president had fled the southern African country following death threats.
In a statement, Mnangagwa said that the ruling Zanu-PF "is not personal property of you and your wife to do as you please".
He vowed his return to Zimbabwe to lead party members.
"This is now a party controlled by undisciplined, egotistical and self-serving minnows who derive their power not from the people and party but from only two individuals in the form of the First Family," he said.
Mnangagwa was the leading contender to succeed Mugabe, 93, but his abrupt removal appeared to clear the way for Mugabe's wife Grace to take over as president.
Mnangagwa had been one of the president's closest allies since Mugabe took power in 1980 after leading the fight against British rule.
He was sacked on Monday after a bitter clash with the president and Grace.