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Mugabe sworn in after contested vote -

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TONY EASTLEY: Despite allegations of vote rigging and condemnation by the international community, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe has been sworn in to serve another five years in power. In a ceremony witnessed by thousands of Zimbabweans, the 89 year old pledged to protect peoples' rights.

Martin Cuddihy reports from Nairobi.

(Sound of a man speaking at ceremony)

MARTIN CUDDIHY: Standing up in the back of a military jeep, Robert Gabriel Mugabe waves to the crowd.


In a stadium capable of hosting 60,000 people, he's taken the oath of office for the fifth time.

ROBERT MUGABE: For those all the Western countries who happen to hold a different, negative view of our electoral process and outcome, well, there is not much we can do about them.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: His party Zanu-PF organised bus loads of supporters for the inauguration, ensuring the right message would be conveyed to Africa and the world. Dancers and musicians entertained crowds of people wearing white and swaying in the stands. Predictably, those present have towed the party line.

ZIMBABWEAN WOMAN: We are expecting a better country. So far we have been empowered, we have been given a project to do. We are really excited, because we can't just, like, live forever sitting down. But now we are doing many projects, what I think is excellent.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: The grand spectacle is different to previous inaugurations. It appears to be a demonstration of power designed to show the legitimacy of the vote.

ZIMBABWEAN MAN: As we know our president, he stands by his word, all his promises he has made to us, we are expecting him to fulfil everything.

MARTIN CUDDIHY: But the celebration was boycotted by Mr Mugabe's main political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai. The Movement for Democratic change, or MDC, called the inauguration a "robber's party." Mr Tsvangirai had taken his claims to Zimbabwe's constitutional court but earlier this week it dismissed allegations of vote rigging.

A typically defiant Mr Mugabe has told his detractors to "hang" and has vowed to continue with nationalist policies forcing foreign firms to turn over majority stakes to black Zimbabweans.

ROBERT MUGABE: Like in all elections, there will always be bad losers, real spoilers. It is a part price we pay for electoral democracy, isn't it?

ZIMBABWEAN WOMAN: Robert Mugabe is now 89 years old so this may well be his last term in office.

In Nairobi, this is Martin Cuddihy for AM.