Emmerson Mnangagwa has been inaugurated as Zimbabwe’s new president in a ceremony at a packed stadium in the capital, Harare.
The move follows the dramatic departure of long-term President Robert Mugabe after 37 years of authoritarian rule.
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal earlier this month led the ruling Zanu-PF party and the army to intervene and force Robert Mugabe to quit.
The former vice-president, who had fled the country, returned from exile on November 22.
The opposition is urging Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been part of the ruling elite, to end the “culture of corruption”.
Although Emmerson Mnangagwa has unseated Robert Mugabe, he is still associated by many with some of the worst atrocities committed under the ruling Zanu-PF party since the country gained independence in 1980.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was Zimbawe’s spymaster during the 1980s civil conflict, in which thousands of civilians were killed. But he has denied any role in the massacres, blaming the army.
After being dismissed as part of a power struggle over who would succeed Robert Mugabe as president, Emmerson Mnangagwa fled to South Africa two weeks ago – only to return home on November 22 to a hero’s welcome.
Tens of thousands of people packed the National Sports Stadium at Harare to witness the inauguration. Pop singer Jah Prayzer provided the entertainment and, as people in the crowd danced, the atmosphere was closer to that of a concert.
Dignitaries, including leaders from various African countries filed in to cheers.
Opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Joice Mujuru – who have both also had their sights on the presidency at various times – were there.
Emmerson Mnangagwa was led in the oath of office by Chief Justice Luke Malaba, saying he would “be faithful to Zimbabwe”, “protect and promote the rights and people of Zimbabwe” and discharge his duties to the best of his abilities.
He was accompanied by his wife Auxilia and gave her a kiss after the green presidential sash was placed around his neck.
The crowds cheered a 21-gun salute and a flypast.
Former President Robert Mugabe did not attend the inauguration ceremony – and the official reason given was that at 93, he needed to rest.
On November 23, several reports suggested Robert Mugabe had been granted immunity from prosecution.
Local media are reporting that Emmerson Mnangagwa has offered the Mugabe family “maximum security and welfare”.
Robert Mugabe “expressed his good wishes and support for the incoming president,” the Herald newspaper reports.
Zimbabwe’s former vice-president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose dismissal led to the shock resignation of long-time President Robert Mugabe, will be sworn in as the new president on November 24, the state broadcaster announces.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who fled to South Africa two weeks ago, would fly home on November 22, it added.
The news of Robert Mugabe’s resignation sparked wild celebrations across the country late into the night.
The announcement that Robert Mugabe was stepping down came in the form of a letter read out in parliament on November 21, abruptly halting impeachment proceedings against him.
In that letter, the 93-year-old said he was resigning to allow a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, and that his decision was voluntary.
A spokesman for the ruling Zanu-PF party said Emmerson Mnangagwa, 71, would serve the remainder of Robert Mugabe’s term until elections which are due to take place by September 2018.
The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) confirmed that Emmerson Mnangagwa’s swearing-in ceremony had been scheduled for November 24.
Nicknamed the “crocodile” due to his political cunning, Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a statement from exile calling on Zimbabweans to unite to rebuild the country.
He told Zimbabwe’s NewsDay on November 21: “Together, we will ensure a peaceful transition to the consolidation of our democracy, and bring in a fresh start for all Zimbabweans and foster peace and unity.”
His dismissal by Robert Mugabe two weeks ago triggered an unprecedented political crisis in Zimbabwe.
The move had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for First Lady Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, which stepped in and put the president under house arrest.
Under Zimbawe’s constitution, the role of successor would normally go to a serving vice-president, and one still remains in post – Phelekezela Mphoko.
However, Phelekezela Mphoko – a key ally of Grace Mugabe – has just been fired by Zanu-PF and is not believed to be in the country. In his absence, the Zanu-PF has nominated Emmerson Mnangagwa, the speaker of parliament confirmed.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has announced his resignation ending his 37 years of rule.
The announcement sparked jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets.
A letter from Robert Mugabe, 93, read out by the speaker of parliament said the decision was voluntary and he had made it to allow a smooth transfer of power.
The news abruptly halted an impeachment hearing that had begun against him.
The ruling Zanu-PF party says former VP Emmerson Mnangagwa will succeed Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980.
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal earlier this month triggered a political crisis.
The move had been seen by many as an attempt to clear the way for Grace Mugabe to succeed her husband as leader and riled the military leadership, who stepped in and put Robert Mugabe under house arrest.
However, in his speech later in the day, the 93-year-old president made no direct mention of those developments.
“The (ruling Zanu-PF) party congress is due in a few weeks and I will preside over its processes,” Robert Mugabe told the nation, flanked by senior military generals at his official residence in Harare. The president spoke slowly, occasionally stumbling over his words.
Robert Mugabe acknowledged criticism from Zanu-PF, the military and public, and stressed the need to return Zimbabwe to normalcy.
He said, in reference to the army’s move last week to take over the state broadcaster: “Whatever the pros and cons of how they (the army) went about their operation, I, as commander-in-chief, do acknowledge their concerns.”
Robert Mugabe said their actions had not violated the constitution, but he did not mention any possibility of resigning.
Tens of thousands had joined huge demonstrations on November 18, with many believing he was about to step down.
It is not entirely clear how Robert Mugabe can preside over Zanu-PF’s congress next month, following his dismissal as party leader.
Party positions are officially decided at the congress and Emmerson Mnangagwa may officially take over leading the country then.
Emmerson Mnangagwa, a former state security chief, is nicknamed “the crocodile” for his perceived shrewdness. He fled Zimbabwe after his sacking two weeks ago, but has since reportedly returned.
Top leaders of Zimbabwe’s ruling party Zanu-PF are calling on President Robert Mugabe to step down, as pressure on him intensifies following a military intervention and protests.
Senior party officials have started arriving for a meeting of Zanu-PF in which they will discuss whether to dismiss Robert Mugabe.
The party’s Youth League, previously loyal to the long-term president, has turned against him.
Military leaders are also set to meet President Mugabe.
According state TV, mediation will be led by a Catholic priest.
In a statement, the Zanu-PF Youth League condemned Robert Mugabe’s allies for “looting and plundering” and his wife Grace for “vulgar, cunning and unruly behavior”, and called on him to stand down and to “rest as an elder statesman”.
Nine of ten Zanu-PF party chapters say Robert Mugabe should step down and their decision is likely to be endorsed at November 19 meeting of the party’s top body, the central committee.
The head of the influential War Veterans Association, Chris Mutsvangwa, predicted to Reuters before the meeting that President Mugabe would be removed from the party leadership, and his wife would lose her position as head of its women’s league.
He then threatened to “bring back the crowds and they will do their business” if Robert Mugabe did not step down.
The 93-year-old president has largely been confined to his house since the army took over on November 15.
The army took control of the country after President Mugabe fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s dismissal made Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace front runner to become next president. He is likely to be reinstated as vice-president when Zanu-PF convene.
Robert Mugabe has led Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans, including people from the ruling party and the opposition, took to the streets on November 18 to celebrate the army’s takeover and to urge Robert Mugabe to quit.
They tore up pictures of the president and marched to his office and residence.
President Robert Mugabe may face impeachment in parliament next week if he refuses to step down.
Pictures published by Zimbabwe Herald on November 16 showed President Mugabe meeting army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga and the two envoys from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) at State House in Harare.
Alongside them was Father Fidelis Mukonori, a Roman Catholic priest known to Robert Mugabe for years, who has been brought in to mediate.
Sources close to the talks say Robert Mugabe – who has been in control of Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980 – is refusing to stand down voluntarily before next year’s planned elections.
Some observers suggest that Robert Mugabe may be trying to seek guarantees of safety for himself and his family before stepping aside.
Zanu-PF officials had earlier suggested Robert Mugabe could remain nominally in power until the party congress in December, when Emmerson Mnangagwa would be formally installed as party and national leader.
The African Union said it would not accept a military seizure of power and demanded a return to constitutional order.
South Africa’s defense minister and security minister are meeting Robert Mugabe on behalf of Sadc, which South Africa currently leads. They urged Zimbabwe to “settle the political challenges through peaceful means,” the AFP reported.
South Africa is hosting millions of Zimbabweans who fled after the country’s economy crashed in 2008. It has a special interest in seeing stability restored.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said it was “in the interests of the people” that Robert Mugabe “resign… immediately” as part of a negotiated “all-inclusive transitional mechanism”.
Another opposition leader, Tendai Biti, called for elections to be held.
Early reports suggested Grace Mugabe had fled to Namibia, but sources now say she is in the family compound in Harare, along with some of the youth wing of Zanu-PF who had backed her.
Troops in armored vehicles have been out in the streets of the capital Harare since November 14.
After soldiers overran the headquarters of the ZBC broadcaster, Maj. Gen. Sibusiso Moyo went on air to say the military wished to “assure the nation that his Excellency the president… and his family are safe and sound and their security is guaranteed”.
“We are only targeting criminals around him who are committing crimes… that are causing social and economic suffering in the country,” the general said.
“As soon as we have accomplished our mission, we expect that the situation will return to normalcy.”
The statement also said that citizens should remain calm and limit unnecessary movement. The military assures the Zimbabwean judiciary that its independence is guaranteed. Security services should “co-operate for the good of our country” and any provocation would “be met with an appropriate response”. And all leave for the defense forces is canceled and personnel should return to barracks immediately.
It is not clear who is leading the military action.
Army chief Gen. Constantino Chiwenga, who visited China last week, said on November 13 the army was prepared to act to end purges within Zanu-PF.
Some staff at ZBC were manhandled when the soldiers moved in, sources told Reuters.
A government source told Reuters that Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo had been detained.
Ignatius Chombo is a leading member of a faction of Zanu-PF led by Grace Mugabe.
Zanu-PF had accused Gen. Constantino Chiwenga of “treasonable conduct” after he issued his warning that the army might intervene.
Robert Mugabe fired Emmerson Mnangagwa last week, amid a row over succession.
Emmerson Mnangagwa had previously been seen as a potential heir to the president, but First Lady Grace Mugabe had since become the clear front-runner.
Last month, Grace Mugabe accused allies of Emmerson Mnangagwa of planning a coup.
The rivalry between Grace Mugabe and Emmerson Mnangagwa split Zanu-PF.
Gen. Constantino Chiwenga is a close ally of Emmerson Mnangagwa and both are veterans of the 1970s war which ended white minority rule.
The leader of the war veterans, Chris Mutsvangwa, welcomed the military move, telling Reuters: “This is a correction of a state that was careening off the cliff.
“It’s the end of a very painful and sad chapter in the history of a young nation, in which a dictator, as he became old, surrendered his court to a gang of thieves around his wife.”