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Viktor Yushchenko (file photo) 23 January 2005 -- The inauguration of the new president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, has taken place at the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

Yushchenko read the oath of office with his hand on a Bible and the constitution during the ceremony attended by hundreds of guests, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and the presidents of seven countries.

Thousands of people have gathered in central Kyiv in a festive atmosphere to hear a subsequent open-air speech by Yushchenko.

The inauguration comes after a long battle for the presidency with former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych. Yushchenko defeated Yanukovych in an election rerun last month after the Supreme Court threw out Yanukovych's victory in November's vote because of electoral fraud.

U.S. Secretary of State Powell met Yushchenko minutes before the inauguration ceremony started, and he assured the new president of the support of the American government and people.

(AFP/Reuters)
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