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Mexico's President Pena Nieto sworn in amid protests

Enrique Pena Nieto has been sworn in as Mexico's new president, marking a return of the old ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). His inauguration has been met with violent protests outside Mexico's Congress.

Mexico's new president took the oath of office on Saturday, promising to govern democratically and with transparency.

"I swear to defend the constitution of the United Mexican States and its laws, and faithfully and patriotically carry out the post of president of the republic that the people have entrusted to me," Pena Nieto said with his right hand raised to the congress.

His swearing in was marred by fierce protests as several thousand demonstrators, mainly from leftist groups that supported Pena Nieto's main rival, gathered outside congressional buildings. At least five police officers and a protester were injured when demonstrators launched homemade bombs and firecrackers, shouting: "Mexico without the PRI!" Police responded with tear gas in an attempt to quell the violence.

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Protests marr Nieto's inauguration

Pena Nieto's appointment marks a return to power for his PRI party after a 12-year hiatus.

The party ruled the country for much of the last century, holding power without interruption for 71 years. By the time it was voted out in favor of the National Action Party (PAN), the PRI had become associated with corruption, authoritarianism and vote-rigging.

Pledge to fight drug crime

Pena Nieto was formally elected in July to replace outgoing president Felipe Calderon.

In a short ceremony earlier on Saturday, he was symbolically handed a flag by the former president. The two men sang the national anthem and shook hands with members of both the new and old Cabinet in a handover that began just after midnight.

"Today I begin to exercise the honorable office of president," said Pena Nieto, who added that the transition reflected well upon the nation.

"This process has contributed to the preservation of the political, economic and social stability of the nation," he said. "Mexico has shown democratic maturity and institutional strength."

Pena Nieto has promised to deal with drug gangs, with more than 60,000 people killed in narcotics-related violence in the past six years.

ccp/mkg (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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