Zimbabwe crisis: Emmerson Mnangagwa set to return to Harare and replace Mugabe

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Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as president of Zimbabwe on Friday, state media reported on Wednesday, following the shock resignation of Robert Mugabe after nearly four decades in power.

The former vice president — who fled for safety after Mugabe sacked him two weeks ago — is due to arrive in the capital Harare on Wednesday evening.

Mnangagwa’s sacking partially prompted the military takeover that eventually forced Mugabe out of power. The bloodless coup brought an end to Mugabe’s 37 years as president of Zimbabwe, with the ruling party Zanu-PF urging him for a week to step down.

“Everyone is happy; it’s a new future,” Francis, a domestic servant in his 60s, told dpa on Wednesday. “Now everyone wants to know what’s happening next.”

People danced in the streets of Harare late into the night on Tuesday as they celebrated the downfall of the 93-year-old dictator.

Mugabe’s early promises of liberation from white minority rule in 1980 were overshadowed by the economic collapse he subsequently oversaw.

Dysfunctional governance and widespread human rights violations led Western countries to impose sanctions in the early 2000s that further worsened Zimbabwe’s financial troubles.

In the hours before Mugabe’s resignation, Mnangagwa called on Zimbabweans to work together in the interests of the country.

“Never should the nation be held at ransom by one person ever again, whose desire is to die in office at whatever cost to the nation,” Mnangagwa said in a statement issued from hiding on Tuesday.

But some Zimbabweans are skeptical that the 75-year-old Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mugabe, will bring real reform to the country.

The former defense and justice minister — who earned the nickname “crocodile” during the decades he served as Mugabe’s enforcer — has been dogged by allegations of human rights abuses.

Many opposition supporters believe he was instrumental in the army killings of thousands of people, when Mugabe moved against a political rival in the 1980s.

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