“Democracy Day”: Joe Biden is sworn in as President of the United States | Politics News

Joe Biden is sworn in as President of the United States, pledging to unite a deeply divided nation reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Raising his right hand and placing his left on a Bible, Biden was sworn in on Wednesday during a scaled-down inauguration due to the coronavirus, which has claimed more than 400,000 lives in the United States.

“We must put an end to this uncivil war which pits red against blue, rural against urban, conservative against liberal. We can do it – if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts, ”Biden said in his first speech as president.

“It’s America Day. It is the day of democracy. A day of history and hope, renewal and determination, ”he declared.

Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and first person of color to hold the post, was sworn in shortly before Biden.

Kamala Harris is sworn in as Vice President by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor while husband Doug Emhoff holds the Bible [Saul Loeb/Pool via AP Photo]

In an extremely rare gesture, Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump chose not to attend the ceremony.

Trump left the White House early Wednesday morning, traveling aboard the Marine One helicopter for a farewell ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, before flying to Florida.

He spoke briefly to reporters, calling his tenure “the honor of a lifetime” and “four incredible years”.

“I will always fight for you. I will watch. I will listen, “Trump said, adding,” We will come back in one form or another. “

The inauguration took place amid lingering security concerns in the U.S. capital following a deadly riot on January 6, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify the Biden’s electoral victory.

Trump speaks at farewell event at Joint Base Andrews in Md. [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump was impeached last week by the US House of Representatives for “incitement to insurgency” in connection with the attack on Capitol Hill.

Thousands of security forces were deployed to Washington, DC for the inauguration, giving an eerie feeling to what is normally a celebratory event enjoyed by thousands of people.

Advocacy for unity

Biden has vowed to overturn several policies of the Trump administration, including rescinding the so-called “ban on Muslims” barring citizens from majority Muslim countries from entering the United States, as well as joining the agreement. of Paris on the climate.

In his first tweet as president, he said: “There is no time to waste when it comes to dealing with the crises we face. That’s why today I’m heading to the Oval Office to get straight to work, offering bold action and immediate relief to American families.

Biden also pledged to unite the country and urged Trump supporters on Wednesday to give him a chance. “To all those who have not supported us, let me say this: listen to me,” he said during his address.

“I promise you that I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as I do for those who did.”

Alan Fisher of Al Jazeera, in a report from Washington, DC, said that Biden’s speech “was intended to deliver a speech in front of the whole country.”

Fisher said Americans are hoping for a message of unity, especially after the violence on Capitol Hill on Jan.6.

“This was a case where Joe Biden met the moment and hoped he could take the country on the path to unity – and the country would follow suit.”

Several world leaders congratulated Biden on Wednesday as he took the presidency.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Biden’s assumption of office was a “good day for democracy”, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the United States was “on the back burner”. return”.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he looks forward to working together to tackle COVID-19 and climate change.

Ahead of the inauguration, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he shared Joe Biden’s political priorities: “[Tackling the] pandemic, economic reactivation and migration.

Challenges ahead

Political observers have said, however, that Biden faces great challenges ahead.

David Schultz, professor of politics at Hamline University, said bringing the country together amid a myriad of divisions – including a growing gap between rich and poor, and racial tensions – will take a lot of work.

He said that Al Jazeera Trump’s effect on US politics is still being felt. “Trump may be the personification, or the symptom of deeper issues, which have been escalating for some time,” Schultz said.

Paul Beck, emeritus professor of political science at Ohio State University, told Al Jazeera that the United States remains “a deeply polarized country” and that Biden’s first key priority as US president – fighting the pandemic of COVID-19 – will be a “huge challenge”.

The United States has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths worldwide, and the new head of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week that coronavirus deaths could exceed half a million next month.

Biden unveiled a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package last week and pledged 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine would be administered in his first 100 days in office.

Kevin E. Boling