December 18, 2017 / 1:30 PM / 10 months ago

Zimbabwe army leaves streets a month after Mugabe's ouster

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s army declared an end on Monday to the military intervention that ousted Robert Mugabe, promising to shut down their last roadblocks in the capital and hand over to police.

FILE PHOTO: Military vehicles and soldiers patrol the streets in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 15, 2017. Picture taken November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

The armed soldiers who took to the streets during last month’s de facto coup had largely disappeared from the city centre by Monday afternoon. Just a handful could be seen standing around with civilian police.

“Normalcy has now returned to our country. It is for this reason that ... we announce the end of Operation Restore Legacy today,” Commander Phillip Sibanda said, referring to the name of the intervention which the army said targeted criminals in the entourage of the 93-year-old leader and his wife, Grace.

FILE PHOTO: President Robert Mugabe listens to his wife Grace Mugabe at a rally of his ruling ZANU(PF) party in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

Civic groups have been urging the soldiers to leave the streets since Mugabe’s former deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was sworn in to replace him as president of the southern African country on Nov. 24.

Defence Forces Commander General Constantino Chiwenga, who spearheaded the de facto coup, was initially billed to address reporters, but he did not turn up and no explanation was given for his absence.

He is widely seen as a contender to become vice president - a post that Mnangagwa has promised to fill in the next few days.

Mnangagwa made three generals members of the ruling ZANU-PF party’s executive Politburo on Friday.

Reporting by Emelia Sithole-Matarise; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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