Francois Hollande sworn in as French president

May 15th, 2012 - 6:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, May 15 (IANS) Francois Hollande was sworn in as the new president of France Tuesday for a five-year term. He became the first Socialist leader to occupy the Elysee Palace in 17 years.

On this occasion, Hollande said he was fully aware of the challenges facing France, including the debt crisis and weak growth. He will later name his prime minister, the BBC reported.

As the new leader wanted the inauguration ceremony to be kept a low-key affair, he had invited just three dozen or so personal guests to join the 350 officials attending.

Neither Hollande’s children nor those of his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, were there.

Outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy shook hands with his successor in the palace’s courtyard before leading him inside for a private meeting, at which France’s nuclear launch codes were handed over.

In his first presidential speech, Hollande said he wished to deliver a “message of confidence”.

“We are a great nation. Throughout its history, France has overcome the challenges it faced,” he said. “Each time, the people have prevailed while remaining faithful to themselves.”

“My mandate is to bring France back to justice, open up a new way in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet.”

Hollande, the new French president, is to fly to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He seeks “a compromise” over the German-led focus on austerity as the way out of the economic crisis.

The 1954-born Hollande has a shining education background. He was mayor of Tulle in central France from 2001 to 2008, as well as a member of parliament, Xinhua earlier reported.

He has, however, never held a government post at the national level, which cast doubts over his ability to lead the country out of its economic crisis.

During election campaign, Hollande pledged to fight record high unemployment, including hiring 60,000 more teachers in his term in addition to creating 150,000 state-aided jobs.

He opposed a financial policy solely based on austerity, and planned to open negotiations on the European fiscal pact reached last December by adding new clauses focusing on economic growth and job creation.

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