Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe sworn in for another term

(File) Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe pictured here on January 17, 2013 in Harare.

Story highlights

  • Crowds release balloons adorned with colors of the national flag
  • Voters went to the polls on July 31 to pick a new president
  • Zimbabwe's election commission declared that incumbent Mugabe won
  • His main challenger withdrew a court case on the election

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was sworn in for another term Thursday following disputed elections.

After a judge made it official, crowds erupted into cheers and released balloons adorned with colors of the national flag.

The ceremony was delayed for days by opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's petition challenging the July 31 election. He withdrew the court case last week, paving the way for the event.

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The nation's electoral commission declared Mugabe the winner with 61% against the former prime minister's 34%.

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Last week, Mugabe told his critics to "commit suicide" if they cannot accept his re-election.

Mugabe, 89, is Africa's oldest leader and has led the southern African nation since it got its independence from Britain. He led the newly-independent Zimbabwe, first as prime minister in 1980, then as president seven years later.

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    Five years ago, his party lost to Tsvangirai, who did not get enough votes to avoid a runoff.

    Opposition party supporters were beaten, tortured and killed, rights groups said, and Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff in protest. The postelection violence left about 200 people dead and thousands injured.

    Regional leaders dismissed that election as a sham and pressured the two to form a power-sharing agreement. Mugabe's main opponent became his prime minister, and the squabbles have continued.

    The fragile power-sharing government ended with this year's election.