Emmerson Mnangagwa was inaugurated as Zimbabwe’s president on Friday, taking the helm from the nation’s leader of 37 years, Robert Mugabe.
There was great fanfare and applause in the packed stadium where the ceremony took place, with heads of state from neighbouring countries including Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana in attendance. South Africa’s Jacob Zuma was noticeably absent.
Mnangagwa, adorned with military medals, looked pleased as the pomp and ceremony played out, with a brass band providing entertainment as well as hugely popular Zimbabwean singer Jah Prayzah.
General Constantino Chiwenga, who led the military takeover, and other members of the armed forces then swore allegiance to the new president.
Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was among the dignitaries at the ceremony.
The MDC struggled peacefully against Mugabe at the ballot box for years, but was violently quashed. Mnangagwa will be interim president until Zimbabwe holds elections next year.
Mugabe, 93, resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a bloodless military coup that saw him placed under house arrest.
Mnangagwa, 75, is Mugabe’s former deputy and long-time comrade and had been hotly tipped to replace him.
However he was accused of “disloyalty” and sacked earlier this month after he came into conflict with Mugabe’s ambitious wife Grace, who also wished to take over from her increasingly doddery husband.
The axeing of the man known as “The Crocodile” was a tactical error on Mugabe’s part as Mnangagwa had the backing of the military.
Zimbabweans have widely supported the military takeover as Mugabe, once a hero of the liberation struggle, had grown unpopular for alleged human rights abuses and economic malaise.
However some analysts worry the Mnangagwa might be more of the same as he hails from the ruling party establishment.
As the inauguration was getting under way, a lawyer told dpa that Zimbabwean Finance Minister Ignatius Chombo, a Mugabe ally who was detained last week during the coup, had been handed over to police after over a week in detention.
Lawyer Lovemore Madhuku said Chombo would appear in court, likely on charges of abuse of office, but that the minister was currently at Harare’s main hospital. He did not specify further.