Zimbabwe opened a president on Sunday for the second time in nine months, because the country that once welcomed the fall of the old leader Robert Mugabe is now largely oppressed by renewed intimidation of the opposition and a bitter controversial election.
The military-backed President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who once again took the oath, faces the gigantic task of rebuilding a deteriorating economy and uniting a nation divided by a voice that many hoped would bring change.
The 75-year-old Mnangagwa, who took the power of his mentor Mugabe in November with the help of the army, said: "my arms are stretched out" to the main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa after the Constitutional Court on Friday rejected opposition claims of ballot and maintained the president's narrow July 30 victory.
Some supporters of the president, however, wore an improvised coffin with the name of Chamisa during the Sunday ceremony.
"In just nine months we have born a new Zimbabwe," said Mnangagwa, who promised democratic and economic reforms after the repressive 37-year rule of Mugabe. He opened his speech by reading a letter from the 94-year-old Mugabe, whose resignation from Mnangagwa triggered the dramatic events of November and offered congratulations and said he could not come because "I am not right."
Mnangagwa told the crowd that "our democracy has indeed matured" and he invited all political parties to unite and "develop the motherland".
The 40-year-old Chamisa said Saturday that he respectfully rejects the verdict of the court and the inauguration & # 39; false & # 39; called.
"They know they can not invite me to a wedding where I was the one who should receive the gifts," he said. Spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda said: "We have not received a formal invitation."
Reigning spokesman Paul Mangwana criticized Chamisa about the inauguration eruption.
"It is important for nation-building at this critical moment," Mangwana told The Associated Press. "The problem is that the party (Movement for Democratic Change) did not give us a good opposition leader, they gave us a schoolboy, so he plays schoolboy politics."
Excited supporters from the president and governing ZANU-PF party filled the 60,000-seat National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare, a few overtaking buses and trucks in villages hundreds of miles away. The heads of state of South Africa, Congo, Rwanda and Zambia and elsewhere were present.
The mood was less enthusiastic in the center of Harare, a stronghold of the opposition. "He is not my president, why should I go?" Asked a resident, Emmanuel Mazunda.
The government urgently needed a credible election to end its status as a global pariah, to lift international sanctions – Mnangagwa itself remains under US sanctions – and opens the door to investment. State-run media this month estimated Zimbabwe's overdue debts at $ 5.6 billion.
Analysts say that the immediate duties of the president during his five-year term must be to solve serious cash shortfalls and high unemployment that have forced thousands of people as vendors to take to the streets. Millions of others have fled the country over the years.
Mnangagwa said in his speech that his government would work to turn the economy into a middle income by 2030 by modernizing infrastructure, fighting corruption and putting "jobs, jobs and more jobs" at the heart of its policy.
Final reports are awaiting Western election observers who are invited for the first time in almost two decades. They noticed few problems during a peaceful election day, but voiced their concern about excessive use of violence & # 39; two days later, when six people were killed when the army invaded the capital to spread protests.
On Saturday, the joint mission of the US-based International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute said that Zimbabwe has "not yet demonstrated that it has established a tolerant, democratic culture that allows elections to be held where parties are treated fairly and citizens can vote freely. "
Mnangagwa said that he will shortly appoint a committee of inquiry into the "isolated and unfortunate" violence and that it will make his findings public.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, the general behind the military operation against Mugabe, took a sharper tone in his own speech and said: "We regret" the violence, but we blamed "dissatisfied the freedom of speech have abused. " Chiwenga also insisted on the unconditional lifting of sanctions.
The religious leader Andrew Wutawunashe gave the blessing before the oath of office and appealed to President Donald Trump and other leaders to lift sanctions, to cheer.
"We tell you … we finally found a man who can turn our little nation into a big nation," he said. "Please help him."