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Lenin Moreno sworn in as Ecuador president vowing to heal divisions

Lenin Moreno has been sworn in as Ecuador's president, promising to try to heal divisions stirred by a decade of polarising leftist rule.

He assumed the presidency during a ceremony in Ecuador's congress before 12 heads of state from around Latin America.

His cabinet, announced on Tuesday after weeks of back-door haggling inside the ruling party, seeks to follow through on his campaign pledge to open up a dialogue with the private sector that was largely shunned by his predecessor and political mentor Rafael Correa, who surrounded himself with ideological loyalists.

Several business executives were included in the cabinet, including a member of the Noboa family, among Ecuador's wealthiest, as trade minister.

Eight women were appointed to key positions, including foreign minister and central bank president.

"There can't be dialogue without freedom of expression," Mr Moreno said in an apparent olive branch to Ecuador's media, which faced frequent government harassment under Mr Correa.

Mr Moreno came from behind in polls and narrowly defeated conservative banker Guillermo Lasso in an April run-off widely seen as a referendum on Mr Correa's so-called Citizens' Revolution.

Mr Moreno was Mr Correa's first vice president.

While he benefited from the popularity of Mr Correa's social programmes, Mr Moreno is counting on private investment to help revive the dollarised Ecuadorean economy, which is mired in recession because of a collapse in oil prices and its dependency on the strong US currency, which has hurt manufacturers competing against cheaper imports.

Mr Moreno, who uses a wheelchair after losing mobility when he was the victim of a botched robbery, dismissed the idea of abandoning use of the US dollar as the country's currency, adopted during an inflationary spiral and banking crisis 17 years ago.

"We're going to sustain dollarisation. There won't be any parallel currencies," he said in his inaugural address while promising an "austere" administration.

Economists warn that unpopular cuts to public spending will probably deepen Ecuador's economic woes in the short term.

Any cuts could stir tensions with supporters of Mr Correa, who has said he is ready to come out of political retirement and run again for the presidency if Ecuador's problems become unmanageable.

AP

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