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Zimbabwe’s ruling party OKs president as its 2023 candidate

FILE - In this file photo dated Wednesday, Aug, 29, 2018, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa addresses the media at his offices in Harare. The ruling ZANU-PF party, at its party conference Saturday Dec. 15, 2018, approved 76-year old Emmerson Mnangagwa as its candidate in the scheduled 2023 election, just five months after a bitterly disputed election. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, FILE)

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s ruling party on Saturday approved President Emmerson Mnangagwa as its candidate in 2023, just five months after a bitterly disputed election.

The ZANU-PF at its party conference passed a resolution making its preference for the 76-year-old Mnangagwa official. In a speech that didn’t mention the endorsement, the president called on the party for unity, loyalty and discipline.

His administration has rejected the idea of forming a government of national unity with the main opposition party led by Nelson Chamisa, who contested the July election after results showed he narrowly lost.

The ruling party at its conference also sought to dismiss an alleged rift between Mnangagwa and one of his deputies, Constantino Chiwenga, an ambitious former general who orchestrated the fall of former leader Robert Mugabe and the new president’s ascendancy.

Mnangagwa was first sworn in in November 2017 after Mugabe stepped down under military pressure following 37 years in power.

Chiwenga, like other party officials, spoke in support of Mnangagwa, who has endured a difficult time in office as the economy of the southern African nation implodes. The president promised to tackle the worsening conditions.

Mnangagwa gave party supporters no update on the health of the 94-year-old Mugabe, who he recently said is no longer able to walk.

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