BUENOS AIRES –– Mauricio Macri has been sworn in as Argentina’s president, vowing to unite the nation and revive the economy.
The centre-right Macri took the oath of office in Congress but his inauguration was boycotted by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in a row over the venue.
In his inaugural speech, Macri vowed to tackle corruption, poverty and drug trafficking.
He also pledged “teamwork” and an end to confrontation in politics.
Macri, 56, told Congress: “As president I want to be a citizen who can communicate with all Argentines.
“Politics for me is not a competition to see who’s got the bigger ego. It’s working together for the good of the people.
“Today a dream is being achieved,” he said.
Late yesterday, Fernandez had bid farewell to supporters in an emotional speech, urging people to take to the streets if they felt betrayed by the new centre-right government.
This is the first time since the end of the military dictatorship in 1983 that a president has not attended the inauguration of a successor.
Macri triumphed in last month’s election run-off, beating Fernandez’s chosen successor, Daniel Scioli.
Macri has promised to move from a largely state-controlled economy under the leftist Fernandez to one that is more free market-orientated, easing trade and currency controls.
He has also promised to improve relations with the United States.
In his speech in Congress he said: “We’ve got to take confrontation out of the centre of politics. With fighting no-one wins, with dialogue, everyone wins.
“A new time is coming, a time of dialogue, a time of teamwork.”
He said those who had voted for him wanted three goals –– zero poverty, an end to drug trafficking and the unity of all Argentines.
To applause, he said he wanted a judiciary cleaned of its political affiliations.
Marta Gabriela Michetti was sworn in as vice-president.
Macri then travelled to the presidential palace to receive the sash and baton of office.
Fernandez had insisted that the handover of the symbols of office should also take place in Congress, where her party holds a majority of seats.
She argued this was a tradition established by her and her late husband and predecessor in office, Nestor Kirchner.
Macri argued that according to presidential protocol, the handover should be held in the palace, as it was before 2003.
Local media reported that Macri’s decision was probably driven not just by tradition but also by a concern that followers of Fernandez could disrupt the ceremony in Congress.
After Fernandez declined to attend the ceremonies, Macri’s party sought a court injunction affirming that her term ended at midnight last night.
Fernandez told her supporters yesterday evening: “I can’t speak long because at midnight I turn into a pumpkin.”