Windhoek - Namibia's second president since independence, Hifikepunye Pohamba, was sworn in on Monday and made some subtantial changes to his cabinet, but remained within former president Sam Nujoma's loyalist fold.

Earlier in the day, Pohamba vowed to uphold the legacy of veteran leader Nujoma, who held power for the last 15 years in the arid southern African country.

Pohamba, 69, a fellow veteran of Namibia's struggle against apartheid South African rule, took the oath to uphold the constitution before 20 000 people who assembled at an open-air stadium in Windhoek despite pouring rain.

"I accept this new duty as second president of Namibia with great humility," Pohamba said in his inauguration speech.

"I am taking over from the founding father of our nation, President Sam Nujoma, and I express my deep appreciation to him as legendary freedom fighter.

"We must uphold the legacy of the founding president and continue with peace, stability and prosperity," said Pohamba, who was handpicked by Nujoma to succeed him as head of state.

Pohamba, who served as lands minister under Nujoma, won 76 percent of the vote as presidential candidate for the ruling Swapo party in the November 15 and 16 ballot, campaigning on a platform that called for continuity.

In his inaugural speech, Pohamba announced the appointment of former minister of higher education Nahas Angula as prime minister and of former health minister Libertine Amathila as deputy prime minister.

The choice of Angula as prime minister was seen as a reward for the former minister's decision to back Pohamba's bid for the Swapo presidential nomination during a bitter contest that tore at party unity in May.

Pohamba made some substantial changes in his cabinet, which he announced at a press briefing later on Monday at his new State House residence.

A new safety and security ministry is to be headed by Namibia's former intelligence chief, Peter Tshirumbu-Tseehama, who will also double as the country's acting defence minister.

Another big change was moving the office of the attorney general under the justice ministry, to be headed by Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana. Nujoma's son Utoni was appointed her deputy.

Stepping into Pohamba's shoes as lands minister is former home affairs minister Jerry Ekandjo.

The new president did not touch on the potentially explosive issue of land reform in his inauguration speech that came just days after he warned that Namibia could face a "revolution" unless white farmers agreed to give up some of their land.

Around 3 800 farmers, the majority of whom are white, own 44 percent of arable land, an imbalance Pohamba and the ruling Swapo have vowed to address by buying land from the commercial farmers.

Pohamba took the oath of office before a coterie of African leaders including South African President Thabo Mbeki, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Tanzanian leader Benjamin Mkapa.

For Namibians, the handover of power marked the end of an era with the departure of Nujoma from the top post, although the 75-year-old leader will continue to influence politics as Swapo party president.

A German colony until World War 1, Namibia, then known as South West Africa, was ruled by apartheid South Africa as a de-facto province, which it used as a springboard to stage military operations against Swapo and Marxist Angola from the mid-1970s onward.

Following a major battle in the southern Angolan town of Cuito Cuanavale which ended in April 1988, South Africa began pulling its troops out of Angola and Namibia, setting the wheels in motion for Namibian independence in 1990.

Apart from Mugabe, Nujoma was the only African leader left in power since his country's independence. - Sapa-AFP