Emmerson Mnangawa has been sworn in as interim President of Zimbabwe, replacing long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe, who resigned under pressure this week.
The former vice president, whose sack sparked the crisis that led to Mugabe’s forced resignation, was inaugurated into office at a colourful ceremony in the National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare, on Friday.
The event was witnessed by regional leaders, including President Ian Khama of Botswana, Zambia’ President Edgar Lungu, Mozambique’s President Felipe Nyusi and Namibian Vice-President Nickey Iyambo.
Mnangagwa, who had fled the country, returned from exile in South Africa on Wednesday. Nicknamed “the Crocodile” for his political shrewdness, Mnangagwa took over the reigns as Zimbabwe’s second president since independence in 1980.
Mugabe (93) resigned on Tuesday as parliament began a process to impeach him, sparking wild celebrations in the streets. His rapid downfall after 37 years in power was triggered by a battle to succeed him that pitted Mnangagwa against Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife Grace.
According to reports, Mugabe was granted immunity from prosecution and assured that his safety would be protected as part of a deal that led to his resignation.
A former close Mugabe ally, Mnangagwa’s initial fall from grace appears to have been engineered by the first lady, who lobbied her husband to back her own political ambitions.
Kola Tella with agency reports