Harare: The President of Zimbabwe took the oath of office on Sunday, calling for unity following a disputed election that the opposition claimed was marred by fraud.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, won the July 30 election with 50.6 per cent of the vote, after ascending to the presidency in November 2017 following a military coup that ousted longtime leader Robert Mugabe, under whom he served as Vice President.
“We are all Zimbabweans; what unites us is greater than what could ever divide us,” Mnangagwa said via his official Twitter.
“Let me assure you that tomorrow is brighter than yesterday! Let us look forward to the journey ahead,” his statement continued, calling it “a journey of development, progress and prosperity”.
Ex-president Mugabe and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, a 40-year-old lawyer, did not attend the swearing-in ceremony held in front of a large crowd at the National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare, Efe reported.
Chamisa had rejected Friday’s decision by the country’s top court dismissing opposition claims of electoral fraud, citing a lack of evidence, and on Saturday declared himself the actual winner and called for peaceful protests.
Chamisa told members of the press on Saturday that he was not invited to the ceremony because “they know they cannot invite me to a wedding where I was the one supposed to be receiving the gifts”.
On August 1, two days after the election, at least six opposition protesters were shot dead by police and army forces, which used live ammunition, water cannons and tear gas against demonstrators who took to the streets claiming vote-rigging even before the results were officially announced.
In his inaugural address, Mnangagwa announced he would appoint a commission to investigate the six deaths during the post-election violence.
Mnangagwa and Mugabe come from the generation of politicians who fought to end white-minority rule and who have run Zimbabwe since winning independence in 1980, while Chamisa sought to tap into younger voters, as 60 per cent of the country’s 5.6 million registered voters were under 40.