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Mugabe's Former Deputy Forms Rival Political Party

Zimbabwe's former vice president Joice Mujuru (c) smiles while addressing supporters in Harare, March 1, 2016.

The former heir apparent to Zimbabwe's long-ruling President Robert Mugabe has launched a new political party to challenge Mugabe's nearly four-decade hold on power.

Joice Mujuru announced the formation of the Zimbabwe People First party Tuesday at a news conference in the capital Harare.The 60-year-old Mujuru served as Mugabe's vice president from 2004 until her ouster 10 years later.

She had held several party and government posts under Mugabe before ascending to the vice presidency.She was removed in 2014 due to accusations by Mugabe's wife Grace that she was lining up factions within the ZANU-PF to topple Mugabe from power.

Mugabe, who recently turned 92, has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist since the country gained independence in 1980.Speculation has grown over when Mugabe — who has already announced his intention to run for another term in office in 2018 — might retire.