Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at Capitol Hill, pledging to embark on “a great national effort” to rebuild the country.
The 70-year-old Republican took the oath of office on the steps of the US Capitol on Friday noon during a momentous event that has been marred by massive protests against his election victory over Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
Thousands of Trump supporters traveled across the country to witness the occasion from the National Mall.
The billionaire businessman placed his hand on two copies of the Bible — his own and one used by Abraham Lincoln — to take the solemn oath.
“I, Donald John Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God,” he declared, before pumping his fist in the air several times.
Trump changes tone after swearing-in
In his inaugural address, Trump vowed that he would take a decision that puts “only America first.”
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first,” he said.
“Together we will make America strong again. We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again. And, yes, together, we will make America great again,” Trump said as he concluded his address.
“Thank you. God bless you and God bless America!”
Even before Trump took the oath of office, thousands of protesters descended on Washington with a message for him: “You’re not my president.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also sworn in around Friday noon local time (5:00 PM GMT).
Hours before the inauguration, Trump and his wife went to a White House tea reception hosted by outgoing President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Pence and his family were also in attendance.
Obama and Michelle greeted Trump and his wife Melania on the steps of the White House. “Mr President-elect, how are you?” Obama asked.
Obamas had morning tea with Trumps before they made their way to the US Capitol for the inauguration ceremony.
US President Barack Obama departs the Oval Office for the last time as president (Photo by AFP)
Before welcoming his successor to the White House, Obama left the Oval Office for the last time.
Obama walked into the Oval Office holding a letter, which he left on the Resolute desk for Trump.
As Obama walked along the West Wing colonnade, when asked if he was feeling nostalgic, he replied, “Of course”.
Asked for last words for the American people, he simply said: “Thank you.”
Police clash with anti-Trump protesters
Meanwhile, US police clashed with protesters demonstrating against the inauguration and presidency of Trump in Washington, DC.
Police used pepper spray to disperse protesters where pro-Trump events were being held while smoke was also seen filling the street.
“It’s a scam,” said Cathy Garley, 68, a protester who took a bus from Rochester, New York, to Washington to express her displeasure. “It’s a junta.”
She was among the thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators protesting against the new administration led by the billionaire from New York.
“The message I want to send is that Trump does not represent this country. He represents the corporate interests,” said Jessica Reznicek, a 35-year-old Catholic aid worker from Des Moines, Iowa, who participated in a peaceful march.
Trump’s election campaign had been hit with many controversies since its inception in early 2015. But he still managed to stun the world by defeating the heavily-favored Democratic candidate.
Thousands of people since then have rallied in cities across the US to protest against Trump’s victory, condemning his campaign rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, women and other groups.
The real estate mogul’s controversial comments include a call to ban all Muslims from coming to America as well as stopping Mexican migrants by building a long wall along the US-Mexico border. Trump has also angered many millions of Americans by vowing to repeal Obamacare.
Human Rights Watch has called on Trump to repudiate controversial proposals he made during the election campaign, saying that, if implemented, they would harm millions of people in the US and beyond.
By Africafrique and agencies