Emmerson Mnangagwa has arrived for his inauguration as Zimbabwe’s president as he prepares to take over from the nation’s leader of 37 years, Robert Mugabe.
The Harare stadium where Mnangagwa’s swearing-in is taking place was packed with a jubilant crowd who greeted Mnangagwa, wearing military medals and a red tie, with loud cheers.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was among the dignitaries at the ceremony.
The MDC struggled peacefully against Mugabe at the ballot box for years, but was violently quashed. Mnangagwa will be interim president until Zimbabwe holds elections next year.
Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a bloodless military coup that saw him placed under house arrest.
Mnangagwa, 75, is Mugabe’s former deputy and long-time comrade and had been hotly tipped to replace him.
However he was accused of “disloyalty” and sacked earlier this month after he came into conflict with Mugabe’s ambitious wife Grace, who also wished to take over from her increasingly doddery husband.
The axeing of the man known as “The Crocodile” was a tactical error on Mugabe’s part as Mnangagwa had the backing of the military.
Zimbabweans have widely supported the military takeover as Mugabe, once a hero of the liberation struggle, had grown unpopular for alleged human rights abuses and economic malaise.
However some analysts worry the Mnangagwa might be more of the same as he hails from the ruling party establishment.
As the inauguration was getting under way, a lawyer told dpa that Zimbabwean Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, a Mugabe ally who was detained last week during the coup, had been handed over to police after over a week in detention.
Lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said Chombo would appear in court, likely on charges of abuse of office, but that the minister was currently at Harare’s main hospital after being severely bashed while in military custody.
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