Zimbabwe military leader tipped for VP post

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FILE: Chiwenga with former president Robert Mugabe.

The head of Zimbabwe’s military, who led the de facto coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule last month, Constantino Chiwenga, is set to retire.

His exit from the military is expected to pave the way for his widely anticipated appointment as vice president.

Constantino Chiwenga is the top contender to become a deputy to president Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Army Commander Phillip Sibanda will succeed Chiwenga as defence forces chief, a government statement said.

The government also announced the retirement of police chief Augustine Chihuri, a deeply unpopular Mugabe loyalist who it said has been on leave since Dec. 15.

Chihuri was accused by rights groups of presiding over vicious crackdowns on dissent and popular protest in the 18 months before Mugabe’s ouster.

Mnangagwa last week made three generals members of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s executive Politburo, in a sign of the military further consolidating its political power.

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