Former Roman Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo takes office as Paraguay's president Friday, promising to curb deeply ingrained corruption, fight poverty and deliver land to poor citizens nationwide.

The incoming president was elected in April, ending the 61-year rule of the country's Colorado Party. Mr. Lugo 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.

Several Latin American leaders are scheduled to attend Mr. Lugo's inauguration. They include Bolivian President Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. A U.S. delegation headed by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will also attend the ceremony.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.