Mugabe takes oath in Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe (right) of Zimbabwe at his inaugural ceremony.
President Robert Mugabe (right) of Zimbabwe at his inaugural ceremony.

JOHANNESBURG — Robert G. Mugabe was sworn in as president of Zimbabwe on Thursday in a pomp-filled ceremony in the capital, Harare, that extends by five years his 33-year rule.

Mugabe won a broad but disputed victory in Zimbabwe’s national election July 31, defeating his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, by nearly 30 percentage points. It was a surprising turnabout for Mugabe, 89, who won fewer votes than Tsvangirai did in the previous presidential election, in 2008, and was forced into forming a unity government.

Mugabe struck a conciliatory note in his inaugural speech, given in a stadium filled with thousands of cheering supporters. He praised Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders, and called for unity.


“We will have competition and winners and losers,” Mugabe said. “We shall never be competing to be Zimbabweans.”

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Tsvangirai’s party, the Movement for Democratic Change, called the election a farce and rejected the result as illegitimate, a view shared by many local observers and the United States, which said the vote did not represent the will of the Zimbabwean people.