France inaugurates a new president Wednesday when conservative former interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy is sworn in.
Sarkozy beat Socialist candidate Segolene Royal in a runoff election earlier this month.
Aides say Sarkozy has ambitious plans for his first 100 days in office, including a package of social and economic reforms and tougher immigration laws.
In bidding farewell to politics Tuesday, outgoing President Jacques Chirac urged the French people to stay united. He said in a televised address that they have all the advantages, strengths, and talent to make their mark on a developing world.
Mr. Chirac says he plans to devote himself to sustainable development and promoting a dialogue among cultures. He will remain in Paris.
Since he will no longer be president and immune from investigations, French judicial officials say they may question Mr. Chirac about alleged corruption stemming from his job as mayor of Paris in the 1980s and 90s.