- Created on 22 August 2013
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signs a document during his inauguration in Harare, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. Mugabe, 89, was sworn in for a five-year term on Thursday after Zimbabwe's highest court on Tuesday threw out a legal challenge that alleged the July 31 elections won by President Robert Mugabe were marred by fraud. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Miilitary jets tore overhead, colorful balloons floated aloft and spectators pounced on free fast food on Thursday at the inauguration of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who delivered a searing rebuke of Western countries for their criticism of the disputed election that has extended the former guerrilla's tight grip on power well into its fourth decade.
In a typically defiant speech, Mugabe, who was sworn in for another five-year term at the age of 89, dismissed charges of voting fraud, vowed to press ahead with black ownership of white and foreign-owned companies and attacked gays. He took the oath of office 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.
Dozens of buses brought Mugabe party supporters to the stadium, set amid the impoverished townships of western Harare, and four leading fast food chains delivered fried chicken portions, fries and soda drinks in take-out packages after receiving orders for 80,000 portions, organizers and food company executives said. Party supporters thronged the food delivery trucks outside the stadium. Police, some on horseback, marshaled food lines that swelled during formalities
Previous inaugurations after elections since independence have been held in the gardens of Mugabe's State House offices before small numbers of VIPs and invited guests. There was no official explanation why this event was made into a massive inauguration that takes Mugabe, in ailing health, to the next elections in 2018, when he will be 94.
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 recent 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, elder African statesman Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia sat with other ex-presidents as well as the current leaders of Equatorial Guinea, Tanzania, Mozambique, Namibia and Congo. South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, the chief regional mediator on ZImbabwe's crisis, was on an official trip to Angola and sent his vice president instead. Also attending was former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the previous mediator for the Southern African Development Community, a 15-nation political and economic bloc that has supported Mugabe.
Mugabe 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. The West has pushed for democratic reform in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe had declared the day a public holiday, businesses were closed and downtown Harare was virtually deserted, similar to a Sunday.
A handful of Western diplomats were placed in a distant, upper tier of the stadium's stands on Thursday.
Soldiers fired a 21-gun artillery salute as military jets flew overhead. Musicians played for the crowds, many wearing the regalia of Mugabe's party, flags and cotton cloth emblazoned with his portrait, some of it given out at the entrance gates. Hundreds of helium balloons in the colors of the national flag were released at the Chinese-built National Sports Stadium.
Mugabe vowed to push ahead with a black empowerment program that he said 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, who 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."
- Created on 22 August 2013
Egyptian medics escort former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 85, into an ambulance after he was flown by a helicopter ambulance to the Maadi Military Hospital from Torah prison in, Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak has been released from jail and taken to military hospital in Cairo. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, wearing a white shirt and loafers while flashing a smile, was released from prison Thursday and transported to a military hospital in a Cairo suburb where he will be held under house arrest.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi had ordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after a wave of violence sparked by the ouster of Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi, who had succeeded Mubarak as Egypt's first freely elected President.
Footage on private TV stations showed the helicopter carrying the 85-year-old Mubarak landing at the pad outside the military hospital, which sits on the banks of the Nile. He was immediately transported to an ambulance and moved across the street to the hospital.
An Associated Press photo shows Mubarak on a gurney being transported onto an ambulance amid tight security. He was wearing sunglasses and dressed in a white shirt, beige pants and white loafers. He flashed a smile and held his arms behind his head while medics pushed his gurney into the ambulance.
As the ambulance drove across the street and into the main gate of the military hospital, guards, some with their handguns drawn, and soldiers ran after the vehicle, possibly for fear that the ex-president could be the target of an attack.
Thursday's move followed a court decision ordering Mubarak's release in relation to charges of receiving gifts from a state-owned newspaper.
The release threatened to stoke the unrest as the Arab nation is already roiled in a crisis over a military coup against Morsi.
But the decision to place him under house arrest instead of letting him go free appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over releasing Mubarak and to ensure that he appears in court next week for a separate trial.
Despite his release, the 85-year-old ousted leader still faces retrial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising against him, which could put him back behind bars. His court case resumes next week. He also is being investigated in at least two other corruption cases.
State TV said a medically equipped helicopter transported Mubarak to the military hospital in the southern Maadi suburb.
Mubarak was held for several weeks of his two years detention in the same hospital as he underwent medical check-ups. His lawyers had cited bad conditions in the prison facilities. Prison authorities had renovated a ward where he was later kept.
Since his ouster, Mubarak's supporters have released conflicting details about his health, including that he suffered a stroke, a heart attack and at times went into a coma. His critics called these an attempt to gain public sympathy and court leniency.
His wife, Suzanne, has been living in Cairo and keeping a low-profile, occasionally visiting Mubarak and their two sons in prison.
The prospect of Mubarak being freed, even if only temporarily, would feed into the larger crisis bedeviling Egypt: the violent fallout from the July 3 coup that unseated Morsi.
- Created on 21 August 2013
CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian court ordered Wednesday the release of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, but it is not yet clear if the ailing ex-leader will walk free after over two years in detention, officials said.
Prosecutors may appeal the order, which comes following a hearing on charges against Mubarak of accepting gifts from a state-owned newspaper, the last case that has kept him in detention. It is not known if they will file they appeal.
The possibility of Mubarak going free is likely to fuel the unrest already roiling the country after the autocratic leader's successor, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was removed in a military coup last month.
Top prison official Mostafa Baz told the private CBC TV station that his offices will ask the prosecutors Thursday if Mubarak is wanted in other cases. If not, he would be set free.
The hearing was held in Tora prison, where Mubarak, 85, has been held for most of his detention since April 2011. Officials cited security concerns as the reason for holding it in the sprawling, tightly secured facility.
Mubarak is now on trial for the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him and other charges.
He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to stop the killing of some 900 protesters in Egypt's 2011 uprising. His sentence was overturned on appeal and he is now being retried, along with his security chief and six top police commanders. His trial resumes later this month.
He is facing a number of other corruption charges, but no other trial dates have been set.
The court officials spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Rights lawyer and judicial expert Nasser Amin said procedurally Mubarak should have been released since his sentence was overturned, but that the political circumstances may delay letting him go.
"His release will cause chaos," he said. "It will be used by Islamists as proof of the return of the old regime."
Egyptian authorities have continued their crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, arresting the group's supreme leader and other senior figures and sending them to trial.
- Created on 19 August 2013
Source: ABC World News