HARARE, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's veteran leader Robert Mugabe on Thursday was sworn in for a new five-year term and remains Africa's oldest ruler at the age of 89.
Mugabe took the oath that was administered by chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku shortly before 12 o'clock local time (10:00 GMT).
"I Robert Gabriel Mugabe swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Zimbabwe and observe the laws of Zimbabwe. So help me God," Mugabe said. "I will defend the constitution and all other laws of Zimbabwe. And I will promote whatever to advance and oppose what may harm Zimbabwe."
Tens of thousands of people witnessed the ceremony, complete with 21-gun salute and cultural gala, at the country's giant 60, 000-seat national sports stadium.
His inauguration marks the end of the factitious four-year coalition government with outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, and also marks the coming into full force of the country's new constitution adopted in March that for the first time limits the office of president to two five-year terms at maximum.
Unlike last one after the disputed 2008 polls, Thursday's event drew attendance of heads of states from African states including Tanzania's Jakaya Kikwete, Mozambique's Armando Guebuza, Equatorial Guinea's Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, and Rajkeswur Purryag of Mauritius.
The swearing-in followed a court ruling on Tuesday affirming that Mugabe was duly elected in the July 31 vote, throwing out a challenge filed by Tsvangirai who claimed widespread vote rigging despite a largely peaceful electoral process.
Mugabe, 89, won the vote by 61 percent against Tsvangirai's 34 percent. Many African countries congratulated Mugabe for winning the elections while the West led by the U.S. and Britain refused to endorse Mugabe's win, citing fundamental flaws in the electoral process.
Tsvangirai said he will not attend Mugabe's "sham" swearing-in ceremony, according to media reports, and some of Tsvangirai's supporters said they would watch the event "in tears."
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party, which already secured more than two- thirds majority seats in the parliament, is set to take complete control of the new government, kicking out ministers of Tsvangirai's party who were primarily given key posts in economic departments in the coalition government.
Analysts say Mugabe's government faces a major challenge to revitalize a fragile economy, which has bottomed out from a decade of decline but growth started to slow.
"We want a big growing middle class. The Zanu-PF party will empower the black Zimbabweans through indiginization just like we did in the land reform," said Bright Matonga, outgoing deputy minister of information, media and publicity.
Though the West still maintains sanctions on Zimbabwe, China has reiterated its support.
Li Liguo, who came to witness the swearing-in ceremony as the special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, told Mugabe that China's leadership has pledged its unchanged support to Zimbabwe and will encourage more investors to come.
"China will, as it did before, provide various sorts of aids for Zimbabwe's social and economic development," Li said.
HARARE, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- Zimbabwe's top court on Tuesday threw out a petition to challenge the July 31 poll outcome, ruling that incumbent President Robert Mugabe was duly re-elected for his sixth presidential term since 1987. Full story
CAPE TOWN, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- South Africa will send a high- level delegation to Zimbabwe to attend the inauguration of Robert Mugabe who was re-elected as Zimbabwe's president, it was announced on Wednesday. Full story
HARARE, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party on Friday cried foul over the manner in which the constitutional court is handling their petition challenging President Robert Mugabe's victory in last month's elections. Full story