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Joao Vieira Takes Office as Guinea Bissau President

Former military ruler Joao Bernardo Vieira, has been inaugurated as the new president of Guinea Bissau. But, the runner-up candidate in the July elections still refuses to accept Mr. Vieiras victory.

Guinea Bissau's national assembly was crowded with dignitaries who came to witness Mr. Vieira's swearing in as president. The ceremony marks the end of a transitional administration that has governed the former Portuguese colony since 2003, when President Kumba Yala was toppled in a bloodless coup.

No heads of state were present at the ceremony, although 19 kings and presidents from former Portuguese colonies and West Africa had been invited. Several prime ministers and the foreign minister of Portugal attended the ceremony.

Guinea Bissau's Prime Minister, Carlos Gomes Jr., the leader of the major PAIGC party, said that although his party was at first unwilling to accept the election results, it was now willing to govern with Mr. Vieira.

Mr. Gomez said that his party is now ready to work together with Mr. Vieira.

But the PAIGC has split into two factions and some members support, Malam Bacai Sanha, who ran against Mr. Vieira in the second round of presidential elections. Mr. Sanha still refuses to accept the election results and accuses Mr. Vieira of fraud. However, international election monitors have said that the poll was generally free and fair.

Along with the prime minister, Guinea Bissau's army has agreed to support Mr. Vieira's government. On Friday, General Tagm Na Wai said the army was ready and willing to submit to the country's democratically elected civilian leaders.

Mr. Vieira first took power in a 1980 coup and governed for 19 years. His rule disintegrated into civil war because of clashes with the army.

Most of Guinea Bissau's people hope that Mr. Vieira will try and improve the country's economic situation, and ensure political stability. One of Mr. Vieira's supporters said that Mr. Vieira, known as Nino, has the strength to take hard decisions.

"Nino Vieira said in the campaign he comes to resolve all the problems of the country, because Guinea Bissau has big problems, economic problems [and] political problems," he said.

Guinea Bissau gained independence from Portugal in 1974, and has had a turbulent political history since that time. The country's cashew crop is the main export and provides a modest living for most of the country's farmers.