Rival members of South Africa’s ruling ANC clashed on Monday as the party’s top officials met to decide the fate of embattled president Jacob Zuma.
Demonstrators shouting slogans for and against Mr Zuma hurled bricks and attacked passing vehicles outside the African National Congress’s Johannesburg headquarters.
Mr Zuma, whose tenure has been engulfed by corruption scandals, is due to deliver the annual state of the nation address on Thursday, despite calls for him to step down amid a growing political crisis.
The party announced it will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday of its decision making body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), in a move that could force the 75-year-old from office after he reportedly refused to resign.
Many members of the party want Mr Zuma to resign immediately, to be replaced by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, while the president’s supporters are calling for him to remain in office until his term expires next year.
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Outside the headquarters on Monday, a middle-aged woman groaned in agony a she was repeatedly kicked in the stomach by a senior member of the ruling ANC.
Mr Zuma still commands a loyalist faction, including in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
"We are here to defend the state president,” said Abi Letsoalo, from the activist group, Black First Land First who support Mr Zuma’s call to seize white-owned farm land without compensation. “Our message is clear: the president will be the president until his term of office has expired.”
Mr Zuma’s presidency has been dominated by corruption scandals. He faces several court cases, including over 783 payments he allegedly received linked to an arms deal before he came to power in 2009.
Many graft allegations against Mr Zuma have centred on the wealthy Gupta family, who are accused of unfairly obtaining lucrative government contracts and even being able to choose ministerial appointments.
The NEC has the power to oust Mr Zuma with a majority vote. Failing that, it is widely expected that parliament will overwhelmingly support a vote of no confidence against him later this month, which will expel him from office.