Zimbabwe: Emmerson Mnangagwa Sworn-In as President in Front of Thousands
Zimbabwe’s new leader Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as President in front of thousands of cheering supporters at Harare’s national stadium, bringing the final curtain down on the 37-year rule of Robert Mugabe.
Taking his oath of office, the 75-year-old former security chief known as ‘The Crocodile’ vowed to uphold the constitution of the former British colony and protect the rights of all Zimbabwe’s 16 million citizens.
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Mr. Mnangagwa, who replaces Mr. Mugabe after his resignation on Tuesday amid impeachment proceedings, is the country’s second leader since independence from white minority rule in 1980.
In his inauguration speech, Mr. Mnangagwa said the country “should never remain hostages of [its] past”, and paid tribute to Mr. Mugabe, to the crowd’s tepid applause.
Mr/ Mugabe should be “lauded and celebrated” for his historic role, he said.
Mr. Mnangagwa said he was “deeply humbled” to take power after an extraordinary series of events that began with Mr. Mugabe firing him early this month as vice president.
He vowed to tackle corruption and said “the culture of Government must change, and change now”.
Zimbabwe’s new President also reached out to the world after years of sanctions and international condemnation over rights abuses, asking “those who have punished us in the past to reconsider”.
He made a range of promises with the aim of reviving a once-prosperous economy that has collapsed amid mismanagement and international sanctions.
Mr. Mnangagwa said he would aim for more foreign investment and promised that “all foreign investment will be safe in Zimbabwe”, addressing fears after moves by Mr Mugabe to nationalise the country’s lucrative resources such as diamonds.
The military, fresh from putting Mr. Mugabe under house arrest just days ago, quickly swore its loyalty to the new leader.
Even though most Zimbabweans celebrated the exit of 93-year-old Mr. Mugabe, who presided over the descent into penury and despotism of one of Africa’s brightest prospects, some are worried about the future under Mr. Mnangagwa.
In particular, they question his role in the so-called Gukurahundi massacres in Matabeleland in 1983, when an estimated 20,000 people were killed in a crackdown on Mr. Mugabe’s opponents by the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade.
Mr. Mnangagwa has denied any part in the atrocities and, since his return to Zimbabwe after two weeks in hiding, has been preaching democracy, tolerance and respect for the rule of law.
He was a key Mugabe confidant for decades until they fell out because of the presidential ambitions of Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace.
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