Emmerson Mnangagwa, ‘The Crocodile’, has been sworn in as Zimbabwe’s president in a ceremony at a packed stadium in the country’s capital, Harare.
It follows the dramatic departure of Robert Mugabe after 37 years of authoritarian rule.
Mnangagwa, the country’s former vice president, swore an oath of office to serve as interim president until a leader is elected at the polls next year. He is expected to contest the election as well.
“I, Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, swear that as president of the republic of Zimbabwe I will be faithful to Zimbabwe and obey, uphold and defend the constitution and all other laws of Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mnangagwa fled the country after Mugabe fired him earlier this month, a dismissal that triggered the political turmoil and an apparent military coup in Harare.
Mnangagwa returned to Zimbabwe on Wednesday, a day after Mugabe’s resignation, and vowed to take the country into a new era of democracy and to rebuild the economy that rotted under Mugabe’s decades-long iron grip.
There was no sign of Robert or Grace Mugabe at the ceremony. Zimbabwe’s state newspaper, The Herald, reported Mugabe may not attend, saying he needed time to rest.
The former president is likely to live out his last days in the comfort of his grand home in Zimbabwe. The couple was granted immunity from prosecution, the military had told news agencies earlier. Their safety has been guaranteed and they will be allowed to keep several of their properties.
Grace Mugabe had her own ambitions to take over the presidency. The military, determined to keep her from office, intervened when Mnangagwa was fired, fearing Grace Mugabe’s ascension.