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The Latest: Zimbabwe has ‘phantom-like’ acting president

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The Latest: Zimbabwe has 'phantom-like' acting president

The Associated Press
A supporter of Zimbabwe's President in waiting Emmerson Mnangagwa, known as "The Crocodile", raise a stuffed crocodile in the air as they await his arrival at the Zanu-PF party headquarters in Harare, Zimbabwe Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. Mnangagwa has emerged from hiding and returned home ahead of his swearing-in Friday. Crowds have gathered at the ruling party's headquarters for his first public remarks. Mnangagwa will replace Robert Mugabe, who resigned after 37 years in power when the military and ruling party turned on him for firing Mnangagwa and positioning his wife to take power. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

The Latest on Zimbabwe's political turmoil (all times local):

2:25 p.m.

A Zimbabwe legal think tank says the country currently has an acting president who is neither Robert Mugabe nor the incoming Emmerson Mnangagwa, even if his whereabouts are unknown.

Veritas says Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko is acting leader until Mnangagwa is sworn in Friday morning.

Mphoko was out of the country when Zimbabwe's military moved in last week to put Mugabe under house arrest. It is not clear where he is now.

Veritas says the job fell to Mphoko because Mugabe fired Mnangagwa as the other vice president earlier this month, and then resigned on Tuesday.

The legal group says Mphoko did not need to be sworn in to be acting president and "the fact that he was outside the country at the time is of no legal consequence."

Veritas says that "he will continue to hold office, phantom-like, until Mr. Mnangagwa is sworn in."

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1:40 p.m.

Zimbabwe's incoming leader remains under United States sanctions for his activities as Robert Mugabe's deputy and enforcer.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, who will be sworn in Friday, was sanctioned in response to what the U.S. called acts "to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions" and "acts of violence and other human rights abuses against political opponents."

Mnangagwa was accused of leading a violent crackdown on opponents in the 2008 presidential election. The sanctions also target Mugabe, his wife and nearly 100 top government officials and associates, preventing them from traveling to the U.S. or having bank accounts in the U.S.

Mnangagwa has vowed a "new, unfolding democracy" in Zimbabwe after Mugabe's resignation under military and ruling party pressure.

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1 p.m.

Zimbabwe's military is reporting "no violation of constitutional processes" in an update on its operation launched last week that led the resignation of Robert Mugabe.

Its new statement also praises Zimbabweans for behaving well in their demonstrations calling for Mugabe's departure and welcoming incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa, who will be sworn in Friday.

The statement says the military looks forward to "another massive gathering" for the inauguration "at a venue to be advised." The ruling party has said it will take place at the 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare.

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12:35 p.m.

Zimbabwe's opposition party MDC-T, which supported Robert Mugabe's removal from office, says it is "cautiously optimistic" that incoming leader Emmerson Mnangagwa "will not mimic and replicate the evil, corrupt, decadent and incompetent Mugabe regime."

Spokesman Obert Gutu says that "the electoral playing field should have been completely evened up" when the country goes into elections next year.

Gutu says in a statement Thursday that the opposition party will closely watch Mnangagwa's next moves, "particularly regarding the dismantling of all the oppressive pillars of repression and oppression that had been put in place by the outgoing Mugabe regime."

Mnangagwa was a longtime Mugabe ally before being fired by him earlier this month. The incoming leader praised the ruling party Wednesday and vowed death to "enemies." He will be sworn in Friday.

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11:15 a.m.

Activists and human rights groups are already expressing concerns as Zimbabwe's incoming leader is set to be sworn in on Friday.

The pastor who led large anti-government protests last year, Evan Mawarire, says Zimbabweans should let Emmerson Mnangagwa know that the country should be for everyone and not just the ruling party.

Mnangagwa in his first speech in his new role on Wednesday spoke about "working together," but he also recited slogans from the ruling ZANU-PF party.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch is urging Zimbabwe's military to publicly identify everyone detained after it swept in last week and took then-President Robert Mugabe under house arrest. The military has said it was targeting so-called "criminals" close to the first lady accused of hurting the economy.

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8:40 a.m.

As Zimbabwe prepares to swear in a new leader after 37 years, attention is turning to the fate of Robert Mugabe and his wife.

The 93-year-old Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday as lawmakers began impeaching him, has not been seen outside a few photographs since his stunning speech to the nation on Sunday night in which he defied calls to step down.

He is said to remain in the capital, Harare, with former first lady Grace but it is not clear under what terms. Some are wondering whether he has secured guarantees of protection, including immunity from prosecution.

Longtime deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, fired by Mugabe earlier this month, is set to be sworn in Friday after making a triumphant return to the country. He greeted a cheering crowd Wednesday night.

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Source – abcnews.go.com

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