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Mugabe Names New VPs

Newly appointed Zimbabwean Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa smiles at the headquarters of ZANU (PF) in Harare, Dec.10, 2014.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has appointed two new vice presidents as part of a general shakeup in the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Justice Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and former diplomat Phelekezela Mphoko were named Zimbabwe's first and second vice presidents, a day after the president fired former deputy Joice Mujuru.

The 68-year-old Mnangagwa has been closely allied with Mugabe since Zimbabwe's war for independence in the 1970s. He is seen as a likely successor to the 90-year-old president, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 34 years.

The new second vice president, Mphoko, is not as well-known in his home country, having spent years in diplomatic posts abroad.

Mugabe dismissed Mujuru Tuesday after accusing her of plotting to assassinate him - an allegation Mujuru has denied.

The former deputy was also the target of a campaign by first lady Grace Mugabe, who gained political power last week when she was named head of ZANU-PF's women's league.

Mujuru and Mnangagwa were seen as leading rival factions in ZANU-PF and jockeying for the presidency in the event of Mugabe's death or his stepping down from power.

Mnangagwa is nicknamed "The Crocodile" both for his physical appearance and what critics call his secretive, ruthless political dealings.

Since the beginning of the Mugabe government in 1980, Mnangagwa has held a number of cabinet posts, including defense, justice, and intelligence. He played a key part in Zimbabwe's crackdown on supporters of the political opposition during the 1980s.

More recently, he was Mugabe's campaign manager in last year's presidential election.

Mugabe gained the power to name his own vice presidents only last week at a ZANU-PF congress.