- Title: PARAGUAY: Former bishop Fernando Lugo sworn in as president of Paraguay
- Date: 16th August 2008
- Summary: GENERAL VIEW OF LUGO WITH HAND RAISED SWEARING IN AS PRESIDENT GENERAL VIEW OF AUDIENCE LUGO PLACING PRESIDENTIAL SASH ON HIMSELF GENERAL VIEW OF STAGE WITH AUDIENCE CHEERING
- Embargoed: 31st August 2008 13:00
- Location: Paraguay
- Country: Paraguay
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABLID1T8K3ZBIZ356EVN2RZOLC
- Story Text: Catholic ex-Bishop Fernando Lugo was sworn into office on Friday (August 15) as president of Paraguay in a ceremony attended by Latin America's leftist leaders, who have embraced him even as he has distanced himself from their policies.
Lugo, who once led anti-government protests and fought for rights for landless peasants, broke 61 years of rule by the Colorado Party when he was elected in April to lead this poor South American country of 5.6 million people.
On the eve of his inauguration for a five-year term thousands of supporters at a sports stadium rally applauded Lugo when he said he would refuse his presidential salary.
While Lugo has said he will govern for the poor, he has differentiated himself from regional powerhouse Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his allies, sending a more pro-business message and saying he will reduce rather than increase state control of the economy.
"Today we start a new chapter of Paraguayan history, whose authorities will be relentless against the thieves in their communities,"
Lugo said during the swearing-in ceremony.
Regardless, the region's leftist leaders have embraced Lugo and were on hand at the inauguration ceremony in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion.
Attendees included Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, Chavez, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Chilean President Michele Bachelet.
Morales, for one, has called Lugo a brother who was part of a transformation in the region.
The region's more conservative and pro-Washington leaders, from Colombia, Mexico and Peru, sent emissaries.
Lugo is an extremely rare case of a Roman Catholic bishop becoming leader of his country after the Vatican reluctantly agreed to his request to return to lay status.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Lugo also said that he planned to do away with political divisions in the country.
"It doesn't matter what political sector you belong too. In Paraguay, affiliations have ended," he said.
Although he won with only 40 percent of the vote in a three-way race, he faces high expectations from Paraguayans fed up with the corrupt and inefficient Colorado Party.
Lugo, known as the bishop of the poor, says he wants to maintain a simple lifestyle.
The gray-bearded 57-year-old wears sandals, eschews ties, and wants to live in his own home instead of the presidential residence Mburivicharoga, which means "house of the chief" in the Guarani Indian language spoken by most Paraguayans.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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