Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen (R) poses for photos during a ceremony at the presidential Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria, on Jan. 26, 2017. (Xinhua/Liu Xiang)

Alexander Van der Bellen was sworn in as Austrian president at a ceremony in the historical assembly hall in parliament in Vienna on Thursday.

President of the Federal Council Sonja Ledl-Rossmann officially opened the proceedings, with all members of the federal parliament among those in attendance.

Van der Bellen took the oath, promising to watch over the constitution and rule of law in the country.

In his speech, the new president reaffirmed his intention of being a non-partisan president representative of all, irrespective of background or persuasion.

Born to parents of Estonian citizenship, Van der Bellen said he’s not “indigenous Austrian,” but he reminded that Austria is a country of “limitless opportunities.”

He urged the Austrian government to act on important challenges, such as the social, pension, and health systems.

He also talked about Austria’s ties with the European Union, saying the story of the union is “not over yet.”

Towards midday, the new president made his way to his official residence, the Hofburg, on foot.

The new president will meet the leaders of the coalition government and attend a reception later in the day.

Green Party-backed Van der Bellen beat right-wing candidate Norbert Hofer in the presidential election in early December.

December’s election was a rerun after the previous held in May was annulled.

Hofer lost to Van der Bellen by a narrow margin in May. But Hofer’s party found counting problems in a recount of the vote, which was annulled then.

Austria’s president traditionally plays a ceremonial role, but the president does have the power to dissolve the National Council, the lower house of parliament, under the constitution.

Source: Xinhua/

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