Thursday, August 22, 2013

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sworn in as president

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sworn in as president

The BBC's Nomsa Maseko says the crowd at the ceremony "is erupting"

Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sworn in as president

The BBC's Nomsa Maseko says the crowd at the ceremony "is erupting"
Robert Mugabe has been sworn in for a seventh term in office as Zimbabwe's leader.
Thursday has been declared a public holiday to allow supporters of the 89-year-old to attend the inauguration.
The ceremony had been delayed by a court petition filed by his main rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, over allegations of widespread electoral fraud.
But the Constitutional Court dismissed the case, declaring Mr Mugabe's re-election "free, fair and credible".
Mr Mugabe won with 61% of the presidential vote against 34% for Mr Tsvangirai on 31 July.


The mood around Harare - a stronghold of the defeated Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party - is in striking contrast to the rehearsed colourful celebrations inside a packed National Stadium, where each of the country's 10 provinces is sending in buses loaded with members of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.
The inauguration organisers have booked several international performing artists - from the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Jamaica. However, the MDC and its leader, outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, will not be attending, bitter about what they say was a "stolen, and rigged election".
Post-election rancour is not dying away. Both party leaders have been trading insults. It is likely to cascade down, polarising supporters and the nation alike.
The elections ended a fragile power-sharing government formed by the two men in 2009 under pressure from regional leaders following elections the year before marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud.
Outgoing Prime Minister and opposition leader Mr Tsvangirai said he would not be attending the inauguration ceremony.
"Expecting Tsvangirai to attend the inauguration is like expecting a victim of robbery to attend a party hosted by the robber," his spokesman, Luke Tamborinyoka, told AFP.
'Fearless revolutionary'
The BBC's Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says there was an air of excitement at the national sports stadium ahead of the inauguration ceremony.
Free fizzy drinks and T-shirts reading "Mugabe fearless revolutionary" were being given to the arriving crowds, he says.
One of the banners in the stadium reads: "It's Africa versus Europe with Zimbabwe as the new battlefront", our reporter says.
The US and UK have expressed concern over the official results granting victory to Mr Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as he was being sworn in at his inauguration ceremony on 22 August 2013 This will be President Mugabe's sixth term as Zimbabwe president and seventh term as leader as he was first elected as prime minister in 1980.
But the African Union has said that any irregularities were not enough to overturn the margin of victory.
"I have grave concerns over the conduct of the election, and the flaws highlighted in the South African Development Community (Sadc) and African Union observation missions' initial assessments," UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on Thursday.
"There is strong evidence that these elections fell short of Sadc's own guidelines and the Zimbabwean electoral law. As such, we are concerned about the potential implications for the region."
It was critical that reforms advanced under the power-sharing government were not lost, he added.
Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lost two court cases related to fraud claims in last month's disputed elections. Rulings were issued despite the MDC withdrawing its case saying it would not get a fair hearing.

Opposition's main complaints

  • Bribery - Village leaders were reportedly given food and kitchenware to persuade people to vote for Zanu-PF
  • Manipulation of voter roll - Voters said to have had most trouble registering in urban areas, where the MDC is strongest. More than a million names allegedly duplicates or dead people
  • Voters turned away - The MDC says 900,000 people were turned away from polling stations, mainly in the capital
  • Intimidation - There were reports of traditional leaders threatening villagers if they voted for the MDC
  • Abuse of assisted voting - The MDC claims literate people were told to say they were illiterate so that they could be "assisted by Zanu-PF people"
The party alleged that more than a million voters were prevented from casting their ballots in polling stations, mostly in the capital and urban areas considered to be MDC strongholds.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which placed 7,000 observers around the country, has also judged the election flawed.
MDC officials have indicated they are unwilling to continue their partnership government with Zanu-PF.
Meanwhile, the US said recently that sanctions imposed on Mr Mugabe and some 119 other Zimbabwean individuals would remain in place until there were further political reforms.
Some 40 heads of state and government have been invited to attend the high-profile inauguration ceremony.
Once inaugurated, Mr Mugabe will serve another five-year term. Under the new constitution approved in a referendum earlier this year he will be able to serve another term after this.
Mr Mugabe served as Zimbabwe's first post-independence prime minister between 1980 and 1987, and has held office as president ever since.