Joe Biden is sworn-in as the 46th president of the United States by Chief Justice John Roberts as Jill Biden holds the Bible during the 59th Presidential inauguration at the US Capitol.
Democrat Joe Biden, a fixture in Washington for nearly a half century, was sworn in Wednesday as the 46th US President in a time-honored ceremony on the steps of the US Capitol.
Biden, at 78, becomes the country’s oldest leader ever after serving 36 years as a US senator and eight as vice president. He took the presidential oath of office, swearing to uphold the US Constitution and defend the country against all enemies, foreign and domestic, on a chilly, wind-swept day.
Shortly before, Kamala Harris, a former US senator from California, the country’s most populous state, was sworn-in as vice president, becoming the highest ranking female official in more than two centuries of US history. She is of Black and Indian heritage.
In his inaugural address, Joe Biden said “The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”
“This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve,” he added. Biden also emphasized that “unity is the path forward.”
Three former presidents attend
The swearing-in ceremonies were witnessed by three former presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton – but the country’s outgoing chief executive, former President Donald Trump, ignored 152 years of tradition of presidents attending their successors’ swearing-in ceremonies and left Washington early for his Atlantic coastal mansion in Florida.
Former US President Barack Obama and wife Michelle Obama arrive before the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington.
Also missing was the vast crowd of thousands of well-wishers that is normal at US presidential inaugurations, both for security reasons and the fear that people jammed together on the National Mall in front of the Capitol would add to the soaring number of coronavirus infections in the US. Instead of people on the Mall, there were thousands of red, white and blue American flags whipping in the wind.
The usual throng of Washington dignitaries witnessing a presidential inauguration was sharply limited in the seats behind Biden and Harris, and their spouses — first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. Chairs for the invited guests were widely spaced in line with coronavirus restrictions recommended by health authorities.
The ceremony was conducted amid extraordinary security, with tall metal fencing topped by razor wire surrounding the inauguration site after intelligence reports warned that Trump supporters angered by the congressionally certified outcome of the ex-president’s defeat could attempt to disrupt the ceremony.