Sarkozy sworn in French president
May 16, 2007 - 5:24:39 PM

Paris, May 16 - Nicolas Sarkozy was officially sworn in as French president Wednesday at the presidential palace.

Sarkozy was declared president after former President Jacques Chirac, who had ruled the country over the past 12 years, left the Elysee Palace.

Before the inauguration, the two leaders held private talks, in which Chirac gave Sarkozy the codes for France's nuclear arsenal.

The 52-year-old Sarkozy was proclaimed president when the head of France's Constitutional Council, Jean-Louis Debre, read out the results of the May 6 presidential election during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace.

He then received the insignia of office in the Elysee's plush Salle des Fetes room and made his inaugural speech to friends, family, and leading politicians.

During the speech, the new president reiterated his proposals to safeguard the environment, bring back the value of the French tradition, protect the country's identity, restore full employment, boost people's living standards, and called on the country to be united.

He will then lay a floral tribute at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe. Within hours, Sarkozy will fly to Berlin to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel to show the importance of Franco-German relations.

Sarkozy, representing the ruling right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP, won the presidential race with over 53 percent of the vote. Royal, of the left-wing Socialist Party, got some 47 percent.

During his campaign, he promised to restore 'the pride of being French' and revive the sluggish French economy. He has put forward a basket of proposals to stimulate the economy and reduce unemployment.

He promised labour market flexibility, strict controls on immigration, tax cuts, decrease of unemployment rate, and advocated strengthening state authority, restoring France's traditional values, and improving security by forceful means.

Born in 1955 in Paris, Sarkozy is a son of a Hungarian immigrant and a French mother. He studied law and became a lawyer after passing the bar exams. Sarkozy entered politics in 1977 when he was just 22 years old. He first became councillor and then mayor of the town of Neuilly- sur-Seine, in the suburbs of Paris.

He was appointed interior minister by President Jacques Chirac and then finance minister, but was appointed again as interior minister in June 2005, a post he had held until last March. Since November 2004, he has been president of the UMP.

Nicknamed 'Ark,' Sarkozy is known for his toughness as interior minister, who is responsible for law enforcement

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