Economist Danilo Medina was sworn in as the Dominican Republic's new president Thursday and pushed for a pact against poverty as he assumed the post.
The 60-year-old economist, who represents the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) of outgoing President Leonel Fernandez, won May 20 elections on a promise to raise the Carribean country's standard of living.
"I launch an appeal to all sectors to come together and form a pact to lift one and a half million Dominicans out of poverty over the next four years," Medina said at his swearing-in ceremony attended by heads of state of six countries in the region and other dignitaries.
"I came here not driven by a desire for power but by my unwavering commitment to serve my people."
The Dominican Republic's high cost of living, unemployment, corruption and a soaring crime rate were among the top issues in the election.
The country sidestepped the global economic crisis in 2008 but it remains mired in poverty despite solid economic growth under Fernandez.
Inflation passed seven percent in 2011, with unemployment at 14.6 percent and 30 percent of the country's people living in poverty.
"The consensus I am calling for includes a fiscal pact, a pact to improve access to and quality of education, as well as a pact for electricity" he added, referencing the country's troubled distribution grid.
Medina played a key role in the rise of the PLD, of which he has been a member since 1973.
He won 51.21 percent of the votes in the May election, compared to 46.95 percent for his main rival, opposition candidate Hipolito Mejia, who was in power from 2000 to 2004.
Former first lady Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez, also a member of the PLD, is the country's new vice president.
Dignitaries attending the swearing-in celebrations included the presidents of Colombia, Honduras, Haiti, El Salvador, Panama and Suriname.
The Caribbean nation of roughly 10 million depends heavily on tourism, remittances from the more than 300,000 Dominicans living overseas, and cheap oil from Venezuela to the tune of 50,000 barrels a day.