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Zimbabwe's Mugabe to be sworn in Thursday

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Malawi President Joyce Banda welcomes Robert Mugabe at Kamuzu Airport in Lilongwe on Friday. Mugabe will be sworn in on Thursday, beginning a fresh five-year mandate as Zimbabwe's president following a disputed election, his spokesman said Sunday (AFP/File)

Robert Mugabe will be sworn in on Thursday, beginning a fresh five-year mandate as Zimbabwe's president following a disputed election, his spokesman said Sunday.

"It is now this Thursday," George Charamba told AFP on the sidelines of a summit of southern African leaders in Malawi.

On Friday Mugabe's main challenger, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew a legal challenge to the election result, claiming the courts would not be fair.

That removed the last hurdle to 89-year-old Mugabe's inauguration for a seventh term.

Mugabe, Africa's oldest leader, first took the reins of a newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980 as prime minister. He became president following a constitutional amendment in 1987.

Southern African leaders attending the summit had earlier endorsed the result of the election that extended his 33-year rule, congratulating him for holding peaceful elections.

Asked whether regional leaders would attend the swearing-in, Charamba said that "everybody will be invited".