Former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo has been inaugurated as Paraguay's new president.
Thousands of Paraguayans attended the inauguration Friday morning. Mr. Lugo was wearing sandals and a simple white shirt as he was sworn in as president in front of Paraguay's Congress. He addressed the crowd in both Spanish and the Guarani indigenous language.
In attendance were several regional presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Argentina's Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and Evo Morales of Bolivia.
The new Paraguayan president has pledged to do away with the misery and corruption that has defined the poor, land-locked nation. He says he will fight poverty and deliver land to impoverished citizens nationwide during his five-year term.
Mr. Lugo was elected in April, ending the 61-year rule of the country's Colorado Party. He heads the center-left Patriotic Alliance for Change - a coalition that includes the main opposition party, trade unions, farm groups and Indians.
Once called the bishop of the poor, Mr. Lugo was ordained into the priesthood in 1977, but two years ago, he said he wanted to run for political office.
Late last month, the Vatican allowed the 57-year-old to resign as bishop and changed his status to layman so he could take office without violating Church rules.