Zimbabwe army chief retires, could be named vice president

2017-12-19 08:30
Constantino Chiwenga (Picture: AP)

Constantino Chiwenga (Picture: AP)

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Harare - The general in charge of the military intervention in Zimbabwe that led to the resignation of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe is to retire from the defence forces, paving the way for him to be appointed as vice president.

General Constantino Chiwenga "is set to retire pending redeployment", said chief secretary to the president and cabinet Misheck Sibanda in a statement on Monday.

Chiwenga has not stated his political ambitions, but is widely tipped to take up a one of the two vacant vice presidents' posts under President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Chiwenga must retire from the military to take up the position, according to the constitution.

Police commissioner-general Augustine Chihuri, hugely unpopular with the public for heading a force known for mounting numerous roadblocks where bribes are demanded as well as allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, will also leave his post, according to the statement.

Mugabe, 93, left in dramatic scenes that saw the military put him under house arrest, scores of thousands rally in the streets against him and lawmakers begin impeachment proceedings before he resigned last month, ending 37 years in power.

Mnangagwa, a long-time ally turned rival after he was fired from the vice presidency in early November, succeeded Mugabe.

Two former army generals already hold powerful posts in Mnangagwa's cabinet, while another general was appointed as ruling Zanu-PF party commissar at a congress on November 15.

New defence forces commander Valerio Sibanda said the military intervention, dubbed Operation Restore Legacy, had officially ended on Monday.

Sibanda told reporters on Monday that "normalcy has returned to our country". He said the military would hand back "normal day-to-day policing duties" to the police.

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