Argentina`s Macri Sworn in as President, Ousting Peronists

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  • Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri acknowledges the audience as he attends the inauguration of incoming Buenos Aires' City Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta (not seen) in Buenos Aires December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

    Argentina's President-elect Mauricio Macri acknowledges the audience as he attends the inauguration of incoming Buenos Aires' City Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta (not seen) in Buenos Aires December 9, 2015. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

    TEMPO.CO, Buenos Aires - Mauricio Macri took office as Argentina's first non-Peronist president in more than a decade on Thursday, promising to end policies of leftist populism and revive the South American country's ailing economy.

    Macri began his 4-year term in a ceremony snubbed by his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez, following a rancorous argument over where the handover of power should take place.

    The 56-year-old Macri, his wife and daughter were escorted by horse-riding guards through streets packed with cheering supporters waving the national flag and yellow balloons, the colour of Macri's "Let's Change" alliance.

    In his first speech as president, the former centre-right mayor of Buenos Aires vowed to make the economy grow, lift all Argentines out of poverty and tackle endemic graft.

    "Multiplying job opportunities is the only way to achieve prosperity where, today, there is an unacceptable level of poverty," Macri told lawmakers moments after taking his oath in the National Assembly.

    His victory delivered a hammer-blow to the Peronist movement that has dominated Argentine politics for much of the past 70 years and which will be ready to pounce on him if his planned reforms to the fragile economy unleash a new crisis.

    Peronism is a now a fragmented force but many Argentines who in the same breath voice support and disdain for it have tended to turn to it in times of political and economic turmoil.

    Reading from a script, Macri did not provide any fresh details on how he would unwind capital controls and import restrictions, tame double-digit inflation or narrow Argentina's yawning fiscal deficit.

    They are tasks that will be complicated by a central bank running low on U.S. dollars and a festering debt dispute with creditors that isolated Argentina from global debt markets and plunged it back into default last year.

    Tens of thousands of Macri supporters swarmed toward the Pink House presidential palace, where Macri later received the presidential baton and sash from the Senate leader in Fernandez's absence.

    In the streets, firecrackers rang out in celebration as he delighted the crowd with his dad-style dancing on a palace balcony.

    Macri's argument with Fernandez stemmed from his wish that he receive the presidential sash and ceremonial baton at the palace, while Fernandez insisted on holding the full ceremony in Congress, where her party has the most seats.

    REUTERS