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Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, 89, Sworn in for 5 More Years

Thursday Aug 22, 2013
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President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, 89, was sworn in Thursday for another five-year term after disputed elections in which the opposition alleged widespread vote-rigging.

Mugabe dismissed charges of voting fraud, criticized Western powers, vowed to press ahead with black ownership of white and foreign-owned companies and attacked gays in his inaugural speech.

Mugabe took the oath of office on Thursday at a 60,000-seat sports stadium filled almost to capacity. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku bedecked him with a green, red, black and gold presidential sash and the gold chain of office.

Mugabe, who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980, signed a declaration pledging to protect the rights of the people and promised to ensure "durable peace" in Zimbabwe, which has been plagued by political and economic turmoil in past years.

The main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, did not attend the event, calling it "a robber’s party."

Zimbabwe’s state election panel said Mugabe won a landslide victory in the July 31 elections with 61 percent of the presidential vote.

At the inauguration, Mugabe welcomed several African presidents and former leaders from Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, his longtime allies. He said Africa and many nations around the world "hailed our elections as free and fair and credible" with the exception of "a few dishonest Western countries" that condemned the way the vote was conducted.

"These Western countries hold a different negative view of the electoral process. Well, there’s nothing we can do about their moral turpitude," Mugabe said.

"We are not curtsying or bowing to any foreign government, however powerful it is or whatever filthy lucre it flaunts. We abide by the judgment of Africa. America dares raise a censorious voice to contradict Africa’s verdict. Who gave them the gift of seeing better than all of us?" Mugabe said.

Britain, the former colonial power, the European Union and the United States will likely maintain economic restrictions on Mugabe and leaders of his ruling party. Mugabe said those sanctions, involving travel, business and banking bans, were imposed a decade ago to protest an alleged "deficiency of democracy" in his southern African nation.

Soldiers fired a 21-gun artillery salute as military jets flew overhead. Organizers laid on music and snacks for the crowds, many wearing the regalia of Mugabe’s party, flags and cotton cloth emblazoned with his portrait. Hundreds of helium balloons in the colors of the national flag were released at the Chinese-built National Sports Stadium outside Harare.

Mugabe vowed to push ahead with a black empowerment program to take control of foreign- and white-owned businesses and mines. He said the program will create jobs and economic growth that had been hindered by what he called "a tenuous and fraught coalition with uneasy partners" in the opposition led by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai had favored attracting Western investment during the five-year coalition forged by regional leaders after the last disputed elections in 2008.

Mugabe also urged Zimbabweans to reject homosexuality.

"We hope you damn as much as we damn the doctrine that man can marry man and woman can marry a woman," he said. "Let’s not go against nature."

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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