Mugabe calls for peace as VP Nkomo buried

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Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe used the funeral of his vice president on Monday to again call for peace and calm at upcoming elections.

"We want peaceful elections," Mugabe said addressing mourners at the burial of his late deputy John Landa Nkomo at a national shrine in the capital Harare.

"Let us take advantage of the calm and peace we have today," said the veteran leader.

Mugabe is expected to run for a fifth term as president in elections which should take place this year.

Previous votes have been marred by violence, which opposition parties blame on Mugabe's ZANU-PF.

Nkomo's burial was also attended by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, who is likely to challenge Mugabe at the polls.

Nkomo, 78, died at a local hospital in Harare last week after a long battle with cancer.

Mugabe said his vice-president was a "unifier" amongst the political parties that brought independence to the country in 1980.

"He was a man of goodwill to all mankind, a peacemaker as others have observed, a unifier of people from different political persuasions," he said.

Nkomo was appointed to one of the country's two vice-presidencies under Mugabe in late 2009.

Responsible for overseeing financial, economic and environmental policy Nkomo, a former speaker of parliament, was seen as loyal to Mugabe.

His Ndebele roots made him useful in checking the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in Matabeleland, a western region where the MDC enjoys strong support.

It is still unclear who Mugabe will appoint to replace Nkomo, or if he will be replaced before the elections.

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