Zimbabwe's ruling party has suspended six senior officials from their posts for five years, exposing an unprecedented power struggle within ZANU-PF.

The state-run Herald newspaper reports the six are also banned from running in key parliamentary elections in March.

The officials, including Energy Minister July Moyo, were initially suspended for six months.

They were accused last month of holding a secret meeting to oppose President Robert Mugabe's choice of second vice president. The post, granted to a woman for the first time in Zimbabwe's history, is seen as a stepping stone for the presidency once Mr. Mugabe retires.

Two other top officials, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, have also been implicated in the power struggle. Both men have been dropped from the ruling party's list of candidates in the parliamentary elections.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.