Zambia has a new president. The inauguration of Levy Mwanawasa went ahead on schedule Wednesday over the objections of opposition candidates, who claim the election was rigged. Traditional Zambian dancers greeted dignitaries as they arrived at the Zambian supreme court for the inauguration of the country's third president.
Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube read out the long-awaited results of the election that began nearly a week earlier. Two districts still had not reported final results, but the chief justice said he felt confident in declaring the winner.
Mr. Mwanawasa then took the oath of office. But his swearing-in did not come without controversy.
A coalition of opposition parties is challenging the election results. They accuse the ruling party of rigging the vote. In his inaugural address, Mr. Mwanawasa urged his opponents to put the past behind them and work for a better life for Zambians.
"These elections have come and gone. Many lessons have been learned. It is my sincere hope that as Zambians, we will all bury our differences and march forward together," he said. "This is not the end of the world. There is now a job to be done for the people. Other elections will come in the future."
Despite his conciliatory words, Mr. Mwanawasa blasted his opponents for launching an unsuccessful court action to stop his inauguration. He accused them of plunging the nation into chaos.
He said he will tolerate no more stone throwing.
Mr. Mwanawsa is Zambia's third president since 1964. Dictator Kenneth Kaunda ruled a one-party state for 27 years. He handed power to Frederick Chiluba after the country's first multi-party elections in 1991.
Mr. Mwanawsa is a member of Mr. Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy.
Mr. Chiluba urged opposition leaders to accept the election results. He pointed to parliament, where the opposition parties will hold nearly half the seats, as evidence that nobody walked away from the election empty-handed.
"This result to me is God's arithmetic. We must learn to cohabit, to live together," Mr. Chiluba said.
Several hundred spectators gathered in the blistering sun to watch the swearing-in ceremony.
But a day earlier, the crowd outside the courthouse was more than twice as large, when police fired tear gas to disperse more than 1,000 protesters.
The two days had many similarities: a heavy police presence, sealed off streets around the Supreme Court, and a large crowd gathered outside the building. But that is where the parallels end.
On Tuesday, protesters blocked the streets. On Wednesday, it was police. A massive security operation ensured no demonstrators could get within four blocks of the ceremony.
Earlier, in the same courthouse, a High Court judge refused to hear the opposition's application to stop the inauguration.
Christon Tembo ran for president on the ticket of the Forum for Democracy and Development. He says despite their failure to stop the swearing in, the opposition parties will challenge the results of the election in court.
"There are some people within the government system, who were involved in the electoral system, who are themselves displeased with the rigging that took place," said Mr. Tembo. "They saw it first hand, and they told us how this was done. This of course will be a subject of further discussion in court when we present these matters in court."
The opposition leaders say they will urge their supporters around the country to keep demonstrating against the government.
Mr. Tembo says his party will boycott parliament, but it is not clear whether other opposition parties will do the same.
The opposition leaders are also asking Zambia's African neighbors to refuse to acknowledge the new government. But that possibility seems remote. Several nations, including Malawi, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, sent delegations to the swearing in.