Zimbabwe president-in-waiting Emmerson Mnangagwa returns from exile

Zimbabwe president-in-waiting Emmerson Mnangagwa returns from exileThe former Zimbabwean vice president who rode to power on the back of the soft military coup that ousted Robert Mugabe pledged to rebuild the country's economy as he mounted a triumphant return to the country. Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled Zimbabwe two weeks ago amid a bitter power struggle inside the country's ruling party, landed at Harare's Manyame airbase on Wednesday afternoon 24 hours after Mr Mugabe was forced to step down.  "I appeal to all genuine people of Zimbabwe to come together," Mr Mnangagwa told supporters gathered outside the Harare headquarters of Zanu-PF. "We are all Zimbabweans … we need peace in our country and jobs, jobs, jobs." "He is now the former president of Zimbabwe," he said of Mr Mugabe, to loud cheers.  Mr Mnangagwa praised the military, the speaker of parliament, and other party leaders for their support and revealed he had been in "constant contact" with the generals throughout the coup that resulted in Mr Mugabe resigning on Tuesday night.  Emmerson Mnangagwa greets supporters gathered outside the Zanu-PF party headquarters in Harare on Wednesday Credit:  Ben Curtis/AP The 75-year-old Zanu-PF grandee, who is nicknamed "The Crocodile," fled to Mozambique and then South Africa after Mr Mugabe fired him as vice president and kicked him out of the party on November 6. The move prompted Mr Mnangagwa’s allies in the Zimbabwean army to mount a military coup to force Mr Mugabe to step down and arrest allies of his wife, Grace Mugabe, who was making her own bid for power. Mr Mugabe resigned on Tuesday afternoon after Zimbabwe’s parliament prepared to launch impeachment proceedings against him.  Mr Mnangagwa was elected head of Zanu-PF on Saturday and will be sworn in as the party's choice to complete Mr Mugabe's term as president on Friday. Lovemore Matuke, the party's chief whip, said the inauguration would take place in Harare’s 60,000 seat National Sports Stadium on Friday morning.  Zimbabweans celebrate in the morning sun after President Mugabe resigned in Harare Credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS/ REUTERS But he will face intense pressure from the public and the international community to fix Zimbabwe's dysfunctional economy and to do away with the excesses that came to mark Mr Mugabe's rule. “I want Ngwenya [the crocodile] to help change the constitution so that no one above 75 years will stand for public office again and all ministers must have a retirement age, just like all the civil servants” said Isaac Chamboko, a shoe vendor in the southern part of the city. The Movement for Democratic Change, Zimbabwe's main opposition party, has called for assurances that the next year's presidential elections will be free and fair amid fears that Mr Mnangagwa will retain the mechanism of authoritarian control he helped Mr Mugabe build. Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the MDC, warned ahead of Mr Mugabe's resignation on Tuesday that a "democratic Zimbabwe cannot be built by another un-democratic process". Timeline Robert Mugabe as leader of Zimbabwe Regional powers endorsed the change of guard in Zimbabwe on Wednesday, with Jacob Zuma, the president of South Africa, holding a meeting with Mr Mnangagwa before he boarded his plane to Harare. The African Union said it recognized the "Zimbabwean people have expressed their will," but praised Mr Mugabe for a "lifetime of service to the Zimbabwean nation" rather than criticize him for misrule. "President Mugabe will be remembered as a fearless pan-Africanist liberation fighter, and the father of the independent Zimbabwean nation. Today’s decision will go down in history as an act of statesmanship that can only bolster President Mugabe’s political legacy," Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the Commission of the African Union, said in a statement. Celebrations as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe resigns 01:27 China, which emerged as a major investor in Zimbabwe during Mr Mugabe's authoritarian rule, said it respected Mr Mugabe's decision to step down and would continue "friendly" relations with the country. "China respects Mr. Mugabe's decision to resign, and he is still a good friend of the Chinese people," Lu Kang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said. Beijing avoided taking sides during the past week's political crisis in Zimbabwe. General Constantino Chiwenga, the head of the Zimbabwean armed forces and the architect of the coup that brought down Mr Mugabe, visited China shortly before the coup.

Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines