Frederick Chiluba, a trade union leader who overwhelmingly defeated President Kenneth D. Kaunda to win Zambia's first multi-party elections in nearly a quarter-century, was sworn in Saturday as president.
"The stream of democracy, dammed up for 27 years, is finally free to run its course as a mighty African river," Chiluba, 46, said at his inauguration.
The new president said one of his first tasks would be to lift the state of emergency laws, which include powers of detention that Kaunda had wielded against political opponents, including Chiluba himself.
Chiluba's victory over Kaunda, Zambia's founder, marks the downfall of one of the last of the generation of African rulers to lead his country to independence. It follows a two-year trend in sub-Saharan Africa of forcing authoritarian rulers from power following the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.
In Thursday's balloting, Zambia's first multi-party elections since 1968, Chiluba captured 80% of the votes for the presidency. At his swearing-in, Chiluba vowed his government would "never allow this country to sink again to the depths of misery" and urged: "Let us begin anew."
Kaunda said he would soon leave State House, the elegant official presidential residence, and start organizing his United National Independence Party as an opposition group for the next elections in five years.
"You win some, and you lose some elections," a grim-faced Kaunda, 67, said in a nationwide radio and television broadcast.
Kaunda, a former schoolteacher, helped Zambia break free from Britain in 1964. But corruption, mismanagement and ruinous economic policies borrowed from the East Bloc plunged the once-prosperous land into debt and hunger.
Food riots erupted in June, 1990, causing the worst violence since independence.
Among the top items on Chiluba's agenda is the selloff of Zambia's copper mines, once the source of 90% of the country's earnings. The mines have floundered since being nationalized in 1970.
Kaunda, who banned opposition parties in 1972, restored multi-party democracy in December under pressure from opponents at home and impatient aid donors abroad.
Chiluba, who backs market-oriented reform, told a Friday news conference that Kaunda had telephoned to congratulate him on winning.
"I am delighted that President Kaunda called to concede," said former President Jimmy Carter, who helped monitor the elections.
Chiluba has been an opponent of Kaunda since he was detained without charge in 1981 for allegedly organizing strikes to weaken and topple the government.