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Vazquez Sworn in as Uruguay President

  • VOA News

Uruguay's outgoing President Jose Mujica, center, reaches out to new President Tabare Vazquez during Vazquez's inauguration ceremony at Independence Plaza in Montevideo, March 1, 2015.

Uruguay's outgoing President Jose Mujica, center, reaches out to new President Tabare Vazquez during Vazquez's inauguration ceremony at Independence Plaza in Montevideo, March 1, 2015.

Uruguay has sworn in Tabare Vazquez as the country's new president, extending the decade-long rule of a leftist coalition.

Vazquez took the oath Sunday during a ceremony at the National Assembly.

In a speech the new president called for dialogue on issues facing the country such as improvements to public education, health and housing.

He also expressed thanks for his election victory.

"And for the dear men and women of Uruguay, my most profound gratitude - gratitude for the trust in the political project and gratitude from this person. I will try not to disappoint.''

The 75-year-old oncologist (cancer doctor), who served as president from 2005 to 2010, takes the reigns from the highly popular Jose Mujica, a former guerilla fighter known for his humble lifestyle. Both Vazquez and Mujica belong to the leftist Broad Front Coalition which has been in power for a decade.

Under Mujica, Uruguay legalized marijuana and the right to an abortion. Mujica's lifestyle includes living on a modest farm and driving an aging, weathered Volkswagen Beetle. His three-legged dog is his almost-constant companion.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Vazquez Saturday to offer the president-elect congratulations on his upcoming inauguration.

Biden also expressed his regrets at having to cancel his trip to the inauguration, but he told Vazquez that President Barack Obama was sending Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden and U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Michele Sison to attend the ceremony.

Some material for this report came from AP and AFP.

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