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New Zimbabwe president to be sworn in Friday - reports

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Zimbabwe's Emmerson Mnangagwa (C) arrives at the funeral ceremony of Peter Chanetsa at the National Heroes Acre in Harare, on January 7, 2017. Former governor Peter Chanesta died on January 2, 2017. JEKESAI NJIKIZANA / AFP

Zimbabwe's ousted vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa will be sworn in as successor to Robert Mugabe at a ceremony on Friday, state media said Wednesday, a day after the 93-year-old's shock resignation.


"The former vice president, who had been out of the country after he was sacked from both party and government, will... replace comrade Robert Mugabe who resigned," the state-run ZBC news site said on Wednesda.

Mnangagwa returns

Zimbabwe's former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa was to return to the country Wednesday to take power after Robert Mugabe's resignation brought a sudden end to 37 years of authoritarian rule.

Mugabe's iron grip ended in a shock announcement to parliament where MPs had convened to impeach the 93-year-old who dominated every aspect of Zimbabwean public life for decades.

On the streets, the news that his long and often brutal leadership was over sparked wild celebrations which lasted late into the night, with crowds dancing and cheering ecstatically amid a cacophony of car horns.

"Comrade Mnangagwa is coming back today," senior aide Larry Mavhima, told reporters, saying he was expected to brief the media after landing at a military airport outside Harare.

Mnangagwa, 75, was sacked by the president on November 6 in a move that pushed infuriated army chiefs to intervene, triggering a series of events which led to Mugabe's ouster.

A former key Mugabe ally, Mnangagwa fled the country after his dismissal, saying he would not return without guarantees of his safety.

His sacking was the result of an increasingly bitter succession battle with Mugabe's wife Grace, who had been pushing to take over from the ageing leader.

"My decision to resign is voluntary," Mugabe wrote in his resignation letter, expressing his "desire to ensure a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power".

 Party hardliner

In a highly symbolic scene shortly after his resignation, a man took down a portrait of Mugabe from a wall inside the building where MPs had assembled for the extraordinary session to impeach the defiant president.

Another person replaced it with an image of Mnangagwa.

The ruling ZANU-PF party said Mnangagwa could swiftly be named interim president as the country charts a way through the turbulence.

"He will be the one who will be sworn in to be (interim) president for 90 days," said party spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo.

Mnangagwa is a long-time party loyalist who has close ties with the military, with critics describing him as a ruthless hardliner responsible for years of state-sponsored violence.

Mugabe's resignation capped a week in which the military seized control and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans took to the streets in an unprecedented show of dissent against Mugabe.