Luis Arce was sworn in as Bolivia’s new president Sunday, bringing to a close a turbulent period characterized by political and social turmoil after former president Evo Morales left the government in November following a disputed election.
"We are beginning a new era in our history and we want to do it with a government that includes everyone, without discrimination of any kind,” the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party said in his speech.
“Our government will seek to rebuild our country in unity to live in peace," he added after being sworn in by newly elected Vice President David Choquehuanca.
However, in his speech, Arce also criticized the interim government of Jeanine Anez, which he accused of trampling on democracy and even causing deaths in the country.
Hours before taking office, he talked about improving relations with the US following the election of Joe Biden as the country’s 46th president.
"With a new government, we hope to improve relations that translate into the well-being of our people," Arce wrote on his Twitter account.
The ceremony was held in Bolivia’s administrative capital of La Paz and was attended by leaders from the region and around the world, including King Felipe VI of Spain and the presidents of Paraguay, Argentina and Colombia.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was originally scheduled to attend but changed course at the last minute and sent his Foreign Minister, Jorge Arreaza. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as well as senior officials from Chile were also present at the ceremony.
Arce comes to power in a divided nation with social problems aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis. Tensions remain high because of the return of Morales, who announced that he would be arriving this coming week from Argentina, where he has lived since he left Bolivia in 2019.