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Emmerson Mnangagwa takes the oath of office in Harare on Friday.
Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to be a president for all Zimbabweans at his inauguration ceremony on Friday, during which he also paid tribute to veteran leader Robert Mugabe as his "father" and "mentor."
Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe's interim president, following Mugabe's historic resignation this week after nearly four decades of rule.
Despite admitting he played a role in Mugabe's demise, Mnangagwa used his first official address to the nation to show respect to Mugabe, whom he said he still personally considered his leader.
"He led us in our struggle for national independence. He assumed responsibility for leadership at a formative and very challenging time," Mnangagwa said, adding later that the nation should "let bygones be bygones."
Mnangagwa laid out his vision to re-energize Zimbabwe's economy, including pledging to implement a series of reforms to boost exports, attract foreign investment and stabilize the financial sector.
Zimbabwe was once the bread basket of Africa, but it's economy has been hurt by industrial mismanagement, food shortages, a collapsed currency and rampant corruption.
Tens of thousands of people filled the cavernous National Sports Stadium in the capital, Harare, cheering and dancing, and waving national flags as the former vice president was inaugurated, in scenes resembling fans at a football match.
As he took his oath, he swore to "protect and promote the rights of the people of Zimbabwe," a promise that was met with wild applause by the crowd, many of whom had lived under Mugabe's entire oppressive rule.
The new leader was adorned with a sash before receiving a 21-gun salute, firing of a cannon and a military aircraft fly past, in a colorful ceremony attended by African leaders and other dignitaries to mark the historic moment.
One supporter told CNN he wanted a new leader to "upgrade" the nation. "Mining, farming, education -- what I'm saying, we need to upgrade everything."
Mnangagwa will serve as an interim president until a leader is elected at the polls next year. He is expected to contest the election as well.



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Henriette Nshan Tem

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