December 23, 2017 / 4:29 PM / 6 months ago

Zimbabwe's Mnangagwa appoints former army boss as party VP

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed retired army boss Constantino Chiwenga and veteran politician Kembo Mohadi as the ruling party’s vice presidents, a spokesperson said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: Retired Commander of Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) General Constatino Chiwenga looks on after the swearing in of Emmerson Mnangagwa as Zimbabwe's new president in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File photo

The appointments paved the way for the two to ascend to similar positions in government, officials said.

Mnangagwa, who took over last month from 93-year-old Robert Mugabe after the intervention of the military, is under pressure from opposition parties and the public to implement political reforms.

Under Mugabe’s 37-year rule political space was limited, with the latter part of his reign marked by the emergence of a ZANU-PF faction aligned to his wife Grace that threatened to usurp the army’s central role in government.

Chiwenga, who retired from the army on Monday, is the latest in a string of senior military figures appointed by Mnangagwa to important political posts.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba said Chiwenga and Mohadi’s appointments as vice presidents of the country could only be made by the Chief Secretary to the Government and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, who is out of the country.

Reporting by Alfonce Mbizwo; Editing by Stephen Powell

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