Ex-premier Borut Pahor sworn in as Slovenian president

Slovenia's former prime minister Borut Pahor was sworn in as president on Saturday and promised to bridge the deep gap between the ruling coalition and the centre-left opposition.

"Starting the first day of my mandate, I will dedicate my efforts in reaching a deal between the government and the opposition over a programme to recover from the crisis," Pahor said in his inauguration speech.

The economic "situation is extremely challenging but, I'm firmly convinced, we can overcome it," he added.

Pahor, 49, was elected in a run-off on December 2, in which he captured about two-thirds of the vote, defeating outgoing president Danilo Turk.

The Slovenian president has a five-year mandate with a largely ceremonial role, while the prime minister acts as head of government.

Pahor was elected a year after his centre-left government suffered a no-confidence vote and he was ousted as prime minister.

But he capitalised on his image as a good-looking, relaxed, people's politician with a US-style presidential campaign.

Slovenia has been hit hard by the global financial crisis, forcing the centre-right government to launch unpopular austerity measures and push for reforms aimed at boosting the sustainability of the eurozone nation's public finances.

Pahor is Slovenia's fourth president since the tiny former Yugoslav republic declared independence in 1991.

The first president was reformed communist Milan Kucan, who served two terms from 1992 to 2002, followed by Liberal Democrat president Janez Drnovsek, and outgoing centre-left Danilo Turk.

Pahor's inauguration took place on the same day Slovenia's parliament commemorated its 20th anniversary.

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