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France’s Macron inaugurated for second term

PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron was inaugurated for a second term on Saturday, vowing to take action to avoid any further escalation of Russia’s war in Ukraine and promising he would promote France and Europe on the world stage.

Macron was reelected for five years after winning the April 24 presidential run-off against far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

“The time ahead will be that of resolute action for France and for Europe,” Macron said, promising to “take action relentlessly with a goal, which is to be a more independent nation, to live better and to build our own French and European responses to the century’s challenges”.

Macron also promised to find a “fair method” to govern the country and ease its social tensions by making the government and Parliament work together with unions, associations and other people from France’s political, economic, social and cultural worlds.

“I will have only one compass – serving,” Macron said. “Serving our country… serving our fellow citizens… serving our children and our youth… to whom I pledge to hand down a more liveable planet and a more living and stronger France.”

France’s Military Chief of Staff to the presidency Benoit Puga and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the ceremony of his inauguration for a second term at the Elysee palace in Paris, France. PHOTO: AP

For a president at ease speaking for hours on end, Macron’s speech was surprisingly short – and handwritten.

But afterwards, he took time to shake hands, exchange cheek kisses and chat individually with scores of guests.

While Macron presided over strict lockdowns and coronavirus vaccine mandates as the pandemic swept through France, most COVID-19 restrictions have now been lifted and there was no sign of masks or social distancing at the inauguration.

About 500 guests were invited to the ceremony. They came primarily from the world of politics, though also included actors, healthcare workers, military officers and former Presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.

After his speech, Macron went to the gardens of the Elysee palace and listened to 21 cannon shots being fired from the Invalides plaza to mark the event, in line with tradition.

The symbol could be seen as a show of force at times when France is deeply involved in efforts to stop Russia’s war against Ukraine, including sending truck-mounted cannons and other heavy weapons.

Macron’s second term formally starts on May 14.

Macron is expected to soon appoint a new government, ahead of France’s key parliamentary election in June, which will decide who controls a majority of the 577 seats at the National Assembly.

Macron hopes his party and centrist allies will be able to win big in the wake of the presidential election. They currently hold over 300 seats at the Assembly.