World

Mugabe takes oath in Zimbabwe

President Robert Mugabe (right) of Zimbabwe at his inaugural ceremony.
JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty
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.

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“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.

NEW YORK TIMES