An aide to Zimbabwe's former president, Robert Mugabe, has said he feared civilians could "drag out and lynch" the leader in a "Libyan scenario".
During Mr Mugabe's last week in office, he was under house arrest as the military staged a takeover which would eventually oust him.
"I started visualising an image of Muammar Gaddafi," Mr Mugabe's former spokesman George Charamba said.
He was speaking to Zimbabwe’s privately owned Daily News site.
Recalling the last days of Mr Mugabe's 37-year rule, Mr Charamba said the 93-year-old wanted "to go on his own terms" and had to be warned of the dangers following the military's intervention and the outbreak of protests.
While Mr Mugabe was held at his lavish Blue Roof mansion, negotiations over his future were being thrashed out between military generals, Catholic priests, political aides and South African envoys.
Mr Charamba says military officials informed the group that tens of thousands of protesters calling for the president's resignation could target Mr Mugabe personally.
"It was possible because the soldiers said 'we cannot turn our guns on civilians who are marching against the president and spill blood,'" the Daily News reports Mr Charamba as saying.
Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi was captured then killed in 2011 following an uprising against his four-decade rule.
Zimbabwe's anti-corruption agency is investigating whether the former First Lady Grace Mugabe fraudulently obtained a doctorate.
Lecturers at the University of Zimbabwe filed a petition last week asking to investigate.
She was awarded the PhD just months after enrolling at university in 2014 even though doctorates typically require years of full-time research.
Mrs Mugabe has previously defended her academic record.
In September, she told a governing party rally that she had earned her PhD despite her detractors' skepticism.
Mrs Mugabe was awarded a PhD by the University of Zimbabwe.
But lecturers at the same institution are behind the petition to investigate how she obtained the qualification.
Zimbabwe Independent, a privately owned newspaper, quotes the academics' petition as saying they had no knowledge of her 2014 graduation until they heard media reports:
"This was a shock to many members of the department as most members never [saw] or heard about the proposal, progress reports, thesis examiners and outcome of such a study by the candidate."
Local media report that Mrs Mugabe's doctoral thesis has not been made public, breaking with usual practice.
Mrs Mugabe was personally capped by her husband and then-president Robert Mugabe, who was also the chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.
She had hoped to replace her husband as leader, but antagonised a faction of the ruling Zanu-PF party which led to a fallout within the party.
The military then stepped in and forced President Mugabe to end his 37-year rule and installed his former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, as president.
Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has appointed as one of his deputies in the ruling party the leader of the military takeover that led to ex-president Robert Mugabe's overthrow.
Constantino Chiwenga recently retired as army chief, prompting speculation that he would receive a political post.
The appointment is seen as a first step towards becoming vice-president.
Mr Chiwenga retired this week, more than a month after the army intervened in a row over Mr Mugabe's succession.
The other deputy Zanu-PF leader is Kembo Mohadi, who was state security minister under the former president.
The 15 November takeover came days after Mr Mnangagwa, then deputy president, was fired by Mr Mugabe and left the country.
That move was seen as an attempt to install Mr Mugabe's wife Grace as his successor instead of Mr Mnangagwa.
But Mr Mnangagwa had strong ties to the military, and following the intervention he was appointed president and inaugurated on 24 November.
Like Mr Mnangagwa, Mr Chiwenga used to be one of Mr Mugabe's right-hand men, playing a central role in the seizure of white-owned farms and a brutal crackdown on the opposition after elections in 2008.
But he is said to be committed to rescuing Zimbabwe's economy, which he believes is in such a dire state that it threatens national security.
Mr Mnangagwa has already appointed two former military men as ministers.
On 30 November former general Sibusiso Moyo, who played a prominent role in the takeover, was made foreign minister and former air force chief Perence Shiri was named minister of agriculture and land affairs.
Zimbabwe's new President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking the removal of sanctions imposed by Western countries, saying they are crippling national development.
He also indicated that elections due next July could be brought forward.
Speaking to governing Zanu-PF party leaders, Mr Mnangagwa said the government would do everything to make sure they were credible, free and fair.
Mr Mnangagwa became president last month after Robert Mugabe was ousted.
Mr Mnangagwa is expected to be endorsed on Friday as party leader and presidential candidate for Zanu-PF at the elections.
Mr Mugabe, 93, has not been seen in public since he was forced out of office by the military after 37 years in power.
However, former spokesman George Charamba said he had flown to Singapore for a routine medical check-up.
A United States travel and economic embargo remains in place for several Zanu-PF officials, senior members of the military and state-owned companies.
The Trump administration has said the sanctions will not be removed unless political reforms take place.
The European Union continues an arms embargo as well as sanctions against Mr Mugabe, his wife Grace and the firm Zimbabwe Defence Industries.
"We call for the unconditional lifting of the political and economic sanctions, which have crippled our national development," Mr Mnangagwa told party leaders in central Harare.
"We realise that isolation is not splendid or viable as there is more to gain through solidarity; mutually beneficial partnerships."
The president also said that elections were "nearer than you expect".
Zimbabwe has taken steps towards ending its economic isolation in its first budget since the end of Robert Mugabe's 37-year authoritarian rule.
Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa announced a package of measures aimed at wooing international investors, including new curbs on laws that require firms to be 51% locally owned.
He said privatisation of some state firms was being considered.
He unveiled spending cuts including the closure of some diplomatic missions.
Mr Chinamasa also said all civil servants over the age of 65 would have to retire as the government aims for a 2018 budget deficit of below 4% of GDP.
At present, more than 90% of government expenditure goes to pay civil servants' salaries.
Since taking office last week, new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to crack down on corruption.
He has also offered a three-month amnesty for individuals and companies to surrender public funds illegally stashed abroad.
The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA), which aimed to place 51% of companies into the hands of black Zimbabweans, was brought in by Mr Mugabe in 2009.
But in Thursday's budget announcement, Mr Chinamasa said the law would apply only to the platinum and diamond sectors from now on.
At the same time, export taxes on processed platinum would be deferred until 2019.