Mnangagwa sworn in as president of Zimbabwe

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(Harare) – Emmerson Mnangagwa was officially sworn in as president of Zimbabwe after winning a bitterly-contested election which was the country´s first since the ousting of strongman Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa, whose victory in the July 30 polls was challenged by the main opposition, pledged to “protect and promote the rights of Zimbabweans” at an inauguration ceremony attended by thousands of supporters at a stadium in Harare.

“We must now focus on addressing the economic challenges facing our nation,” he said. “We are all Zimbabweans, what unites us is greater than what could ever divide us.

Since independence from Britain in 1980, Zimbabwe has known only two presidents — Mugabe, who ruled with an iron fist for 37 years, and his erstwhile right-hand man Mnangagwa.

Nicknamed “The Crocodile”, Mnangagwa was appointed after Mugabe was forced out by the military in November last year.

The newly-minted leader on Sunday hailed his victory as a new “dawn” for Zimbabwe after years of repression and economic mismanagement which left the country burdened by shattered public services, mass poverty and unemployment.

But his promises of reform and pledges to entice back investors were marred by the army opening fire on protesters, killing six shortly after the poll, as well as allegations of vote-rigging and a violent crackdown on opposition activists.

At the inauguration, Mnangagwa vowed to open a probe into the violence, which he called “regrettable and most unacceptable”.

Supporters, many wearing caps and T-shirts emblazoned with Mnangagwa´s image, filed into the stadium on Sunday under banners proclaiming “Celebrating a new Zimbabwe” and “Unity takes us forward, peace keeps us going.”