Mugabe Calls for Peace at General’s Funeral

Posted August 20th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has urged the crowd at the funeral for a retired army general to abstain from violence.

Mr. Mugabe spoke for more than one hour Saturday in Harare at the service for retired military chief General Solomon Mujuru, telling the thousands in attendance, “Please, no violence.”

Mujuru, one of the country's top political power brokers, died in a fire at his house Tuesday. He was burned beyond recognition.

Police are investigating the blaze but have not suggested any wrongdoing.

Analysts say Mujuru's death is likely to intensify turmoil within President 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, Joice Mujuru, is Zimbabwe's current vice president and leads a powerful faction in Mr. Mugabe's party. The other faction vying to succeed Mr. Mugabe is led by Defense Minster Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Mujuru, who was in his 60s, headed Zimbabwe's military for more than a decade. He led the guerrilla war that won Zimbabwe its independence from Britain in 1980, and 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.