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Mnangagwa returning to Zimbabwe to take over presidency

"I want to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe on reaching this historic moment," President-designate Emmerson Mnangagwa said.

By Doug G. Ware
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Mnangagwa returning to Zimbabwe to take over presidency
Demonstrators cheer during a rally Sunday demanding the end of President Robert Mugabe's reign in Harare, Zimbabwe. Former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, pictured on the poster, will succeed Mugabe Friday. Photo by Belal Khaled/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Only about three weeks after he was sacked as Zimbabwe's vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to make a dramatic political comeback.

State media reported Wednesday that Mnangagwa will be sworn in Friday as Zimbabwe's second president -- formally ending the tumultuous power saga that's gripped the African nation this month.

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State broadcaster ZBC said Mnangagwa will return to Zimbabwe Wednesday evening. Citing safety concerns, he fled to South Africa after he was removed by former President Robert Mugabe on Nov. 6.

After Mugabe's resignation Tuesday, Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu PF party nominated Mnangagwa as his successor -- a move that was widely expected.

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"Together, we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity," Mnangagwa said Tuesday. "As I make my way back home, I look forward together with you, the people of Zimbabwe, to tackle the political and economic challenges facing our beloved country.

"I want to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe on reaching this historic moment."

Mnangagwa, 75, will assume control of a country of 16 million people -- many of whom have expressed a thirst for change after nearly 40 years of Mugabe's rule. He's been the African nation's only head of state since it officially seceded from British rule in 1980 and changed its name from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

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Mnangagwa was dismissed as vice president for purported disloyalty against Mugabe and opposing the president's wife, Grace Mugabe, who observers say was being groomed to take over the presidency.

Last week, military forces removed Mugabe from power in what was described by some as a "bloodless coup" and lawmakers began taking steps to formally impeach the 93-year-old president. He refused a Monday deadline to resign, or face impeachment, but ultimately gave in Tuesday as parliamentary officials ramped up efforts to oust him.

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