Emmerson Mnangagwa took the oath as Zimbabwe’s president in front of a stadium crowd on Sunday after a divisive election, as US observers of that vote questioned the country’s democratic credentials.
The Constitutional Court confirmed Mnangagwa as president 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 bussed in from outside the capital, and foreign leaders gathered at Harare’s national stadium for the swearing-in of Mnangagwa, who just secured the 50% of votes he needed to avoid a runoff against Chamisa. 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.
But 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.