MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Uruguay swore in Tabare Vazquez as President on Sunday, extending the decade-long rule of a leftist coalition.
Crowds lined the streets of Montevideo as Vazquez and Vice President Raul Sendic made their way to Congress for the ceremony in the back of a 1951 Fordson pick-up truck.
Outgoing President Jose Mujica placed the presidential sash on Vazquez, returning him to the post he held from 2005 to 2010.
Vazquez comfortably won a November run-off with 52.8 percent support while his center-right challenger, Luis Lacalle Pou, trailed on 40.5 percent.
Seventy-four year-old Vazquez is a respected oncologist who helped heal rifts inside the Broad Front in the late 1990s and led it to power in 2005, ending two decades of conservative rule that followed a military dictatorship.
When he was president from 2005 to 2010, his mix of welfare programs and pro-business policies helped kick-start a decade of robust growth and slash poverty.
Returning to power, he succeeds Mujica, an ally and former guerrilla whose straight-talking, unpretentious style won him widespread affection in the cattle-farming country of 3.4 million people.
The son of a union leader who grew up in a working class district in the capital, Vazquez closed his first term with approval ratings hitting 70 percent. Like Mujica now, he was constitutionally barred from holding a second consecutive term.
Vazquez will need to address rising crime and education, both major concerns of voters. He promises to increase spending on schools while cutting wasteful government spending.
He will also oversee Uruguay's legalization of the state-controlled production, distribution and sale of cannabis.
Vazquez, who lacks Mujica's folksy charisma, endorsed the cannabis law but was less enthusiastic about it than the outgoing president and has said he might modify it, depending on its impact.