Ghana's new president, vice president peacefully sworn in

By FRANCIS KOKUTSE - Associated Press ,

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Ghana President elect Nana Akufo-Addo during his inauguration ceremony in Accra, Ghana, Saturday Jan. 7, 2017.

Ghana President elect Nana Akufo-Addo during his inauguration ceremony in Accra, Ghana, Saturday Jan. 7, 2017. (Photo: AP)

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — Ghana's newly elected President Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn into office Saturday in a peaceful handoff of power that stood out in a region facing political crises.

Thousands of people gathered in Accra's Independence Square, dressed in the red, blue and white colors of the New Patriotic Party, to witness the swearing in of Akufo-Addo as president and Mahamudu Bawumia as vice president.

"My government will provide the vision and shine the light for farmers and entrepreneurs to thrive in the country," Akufo-Addo said at the ceremony, promising an improved economy under his leadership.

Akufo-Addo, 72, a former attorney general and foreign minister, won the Dec. 7 election on his third run for Ghana's highest office, defeating incumbent John Dramani Mahama with the largest margin of victory for a presidential candidate since 1996.

The race was largely seen as a referendum on how the incumbent party had managed the economy in the long-stable democracy.

The new president said Ghana had no excuses for remaining impoverished 60 years after gaining independence from Britain.

He also provided assurance that the country would deepen its commitment to democracy, noting his peaceful assumption of power was an important step.

Ghana stands as a democratic model in West Africa, a region historically plagued by coups and strongman rule. The country has seen peaceful presidential transitions during every change of government since the country moved from military to democratic rule in 1992.

Leaders of other African countries attended Akufo-Addo's swearing-in ceremony. Those from the West African regional bloc also met to discuss the political crisis in Gambia.

Gambia's longtime ruler, Yahya Jammeh, has called the vote that pushed him from power not credible, raising worries he will not step down on Jan. 19.

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