Zimbabwe General Dies in Fire

Posted August 16th, 2011 at 5:45 pm (UTC-5)
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One of Zimbabwe's top political power brokers, retired military chief General Solomon Mujuru, has died in a fire at his house.

Officials say the fire broke out at Mujuru's farmhouse overnight Monday. It is not clear what caused the fire. Police say they are investigating.

Mujuru, who was in his 60s, headed Zimbabwe's military for more than a decade, and is the husband of Zimbabwe's current vice president, Joice Mujuru.

Analysts say Mujuru's death is likely to intensify turmoil in President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party over the question of who will succeed the 87-year-old president once he steps down from office.

Mujuru's wife leads a powerful faction in Mr. Mugabe's party and counted on the support of her husband, who still commanded the loyalty of many people in the military. The other faction vying to succeed Mr. Mugabe is led by Defense Minster Emmerson Mnangagwa.

President Mugabe Tuesday expressed his shock and disbelief at the death of Mujuru, calling it a tragic loss.

Mujuru led the guerrilla war that won Zimbabwe its independence from Britain in 1980, and he served as military commander under President Mugabe for more than a decade.

Mr. Mugabe entered into a power sharing agreement with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008 after disputed elections were held. The shaky coalition has had difficulty governing.