Emmerson Mnangagwa has taken the oath as Zimbabwe‘s president, after winning last month’s bitterly contested election that marked the country’s first vote since Robert Mugabe was removed from power.
The Constitutional Court confirmed Mnangagwa‘s election victory in a ruling released on Friday, dismissing a challenge by the man he defeated in the July 30 ballot, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Thousands of people, some from outside the capital, and foreign leaders gathered on Sunday at Harare’s national stadium for the swearing-in of Mnangagwa, who just secured the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff against Chamisa.
Mnangagwa pledged to “protect and promote the rights of Zimbabweans” in his oath.
“I, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, swear that as president of the Republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe [and] will obey uphold and defend the constitution of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
He took the oath before Chief Justice Luke Malaba who, together with eight other Constitutional Court judges had dismissed Chamisa’s petition.
The election was touted as a crucial step towards shedding the pariah reputation Zimbabwe gained under Mnangagwa’s predecessor Robert Mugabe, and securing international donor funding to revive a crippled economy.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Harare, said Zimbabweans expected the president to send a message of unity amid political tensions that occurred following the elections.
“He has to convince Zimbabweans that he will be the president for all citizens not only for the ruling ZANU–PF party,” she said.
Hours before Mnangagwa’s inauguration, the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute said the country lacked a “tolerant democratic culture” in which political parties were treated equally and citizens allowed to vote freely.
The election was marred by procedural lapses and followed by an army crackdown against opposition supporters, undermining promises that Mnangagwa made during campaigning to break with the corruption and mismanagement that become endemic under Mugabe.
The crackdown, which left six people dead on August 1, recalled the heavy-handed security tactics that marked the 37-year rule of Mugabe, who was removed in a coup in November.