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Trump takes over

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump assumed power Friday with a fiercely nationalistic vow to put “America First,’’ taking a stinging swipe at the legacy of his predecessor hours after reciting the oath of office.

Thousands of people stood on the rain-splattered National Mall to see the 70-year-old Republican billionaire be sworn in and deliver a stridently populist call-to-arms.

Trump promised to lift up the nation’s disenfranchised and those who felt betrayed by the political elites, declaring with vindication that ‘’the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.’’

“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,’’ Trump said, promising an end to business-as-usual in Washington. “From this moment on, it’s going to be only America First.’’

Adhering to his vow to immediately start dismantling the healthcare reforms passed by outgoing President Barack Obama, Trump signed his first executive order in the Oval Office, targeting Obamacare.

It commands government offices to grant all possible exemptions to limit the “economic and regulatory burden’’ of the Affordable Care Act, as a prelude to a full repeal.

As the day’s ceremonial rituals drew to a close, Trump and his wife Melania stepped out – the First Lady stunning in an off-the-shoulder ivory gown – to lead the dance at one of the string of glitzy inaugural balls being held across the capital.

The pair slow-danced in a close embrace to a version of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,’’ before they were joined by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen, and both families’ children.

“Well, we did it,’’ Trump told the revelers. ‘’We won. And today, we had a great day.’’

“This was a movement. And now the work begins.’’

At another ball, Trump echoed his campaign pledge to help create lots of industrial jobs in the United States.

“We will not be taken advantage of any more. We’re going to have those great companies come pouring back in,’’ Trump promised again.

“We are not going to let you down. Remember the theme: Make America Great Again…Greater than ever before – it will happen.’’

During his inaugural address, Trump vowed that his presidency would usher in a new political era.

“We are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you, the people,’’ he said.

Moments earlier, the incoming US leader had placed his left hand on a bible used by Abraham Lincoln and recited the 35-word oath spoken since George Washington.

The popular turnout was visibly smaller than for Obama’s two inaugurations, in 2009 and 2013, with sections of the mall and bleachers along the parade route left nearly empty. (AFP)