Bolivia’s Luis Arce was inaugurated as President on Sunday, capping a tumultuous period for the Andean nation and ushering the socialists back into power after long-term leftist leader Evo Morales was ousted amid angry protests late last year.
Arce was sworn in by the president of Bolivia’s Legislative Assembly, David Choquehuanca, according to government-run press outlet Agencia Boliviana de Informacion (ABI).
The ceremony was held in 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 according to CNN Espanol.
Senior officials from Chile, Iran and from the government of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro were also in attendance.
Morales did not attend the ceremony but is expected to return to Bolivia on Monday, according to ABI. He is then expected to travel to his rural stronghold in Chapare.
Arce will be Bolivia’s 67th President according to ABI. His inauguration follows his victory in Bolivia’s October elections.
The unassuming former economy minister, feted as the architect of Bolivia’s rapid growth under Morales, will come into power trying to heal the divisions of a political crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. He is a member of Bolivia’s Movement to Socialism (MAS) party.
Tensions have remained high in the country, especially over changes made by the socialist-controlled Congress to lower the majority needed to pass new laws and the planned return of Morales from exile in Argentina where he has lived since leaving Bolivia last year.
Morales, who led the country for almost 14 years as the first indigenous president, sparked a widespread backlash last year when he ran for an unprecedented fourth term in the face of term limits and a national referendum.
After claiming victory in that election, Morales was eventually forced to resign after angry protests, and the police and military eventually dropping their support for him. He fled the country shortly afterward.
Arce, who was handpicked by Morales and is a close ally, has said that the former president will play no role in his government.
As economy minister, Arce promoted nationalizing strategic sectors such as hydrocarbons and energy, and pushed domestic production with public investments and subsidies, which helped Bolivia grow at one of the fastest rates in Latin America.