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Poland's new president sworn in

Poland's new president has been sworn in at a ceremony overshadowed by the plane crash that killed his predecessor.

Bronislaw Komorowski's inauguration before Poland's parliament came after a moment of silence for Lech Kaczynski and the 95 other people killed in the crash near Smolensk, Russia, on April 10.

"Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord," intoned Ryszard Bender, a politician from the late leader's conservative party, before the assembly fell silent.

Several politicians were killed in the crash. Their seats were still empty during the ceremony, with photographs of them and flowers in their places.

In the first speech of his five-year term, Komorowski pledged to work to help modernise Poland, promoting scientific research and working to improve the state health system. The pro-European Union leader also said his first official trips abroad would be to Brussels, Paris and Berlin.

He said that, despite the grief the plane crash caused, it also revealed the resilience of the young democracy only 20 years after it threw off communist rule.

"Smolensk was our common tragedy and our common mourning," he told a gathering that included Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his two surviving democratically-elected predecessors, Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski.

"It also showed us all that our society, constitution and democracy can rise to such a situation. The order which we have built over the last 20 years in Poland managed to maintain the continuity of power and to honour the memory of the victims with dignity. It is my duty to remember those who died at Smolensk."

Komorowski, 58, is a leading member of the governing party of Prime Minister Tusk, Civic Platform, which favours pro-business policies, including further privatisations and harmonious relations with Brussels and EU neighbors such as Germany.

He beat Mr Kaczynski's identical twin Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the conservative Law and Justice party, in the presidential race earlier this summer.

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