New Uruguay Leader Takes over from Pot-Friendly Farmer

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Tabare Vazquez was sworn in as Uruguay's new president, returning to office a decade after first leading the left to power and drawing a curtain on folksy farmer Jose Mujica's colorful rule.

New Uruguay Leader Takes over from Pot-Friendly Farmer

After taking the oath of office before the National Assembly, Vazquez called for a national dialogue, at a time when the parties that long dominated Uruguayan politics, the Blancos (Whites) and Colorados (Reds), are reeling from a string of Broad Front (FA) victories.

"We can and we must analyze and dialogue respectfully together on the different paths to achieve the best public education for our people, to have quality health care for all, dignified housing," he said.

Vazquez, a cancer doctor, also promised improvements in infrastructure, social welfare and education, and announced a war on alcohol, AFP reported.

During his first presidential term from 2005-2010, he campaigned hard against tobacco.

The 75-year-old Vazquez cuts a more sober figure than the outspoken Mujica, and has criticized some of his reforms -- including a still-unimplemented plan to sell marijuana at pharmacies, a key element of the new cannabis law.

In a nationally televised speech, new president failed to mention the marijuana legislation that was approved in December 2013.

Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter also known for legalizing gay marriage and abortion, handed the presidential sash back to his predecessor and FA party colleague, reversing their roles from five years ago in this country that bars presidents from serving consecutive terms.

The two allies have clashed at times within the FA, and Vazquez announced his new cabinet in December without consulting Mujica.

Vazquez won 53.6 percent of the vote in a November 30 presidential run-off.

Known for his spartan lifestyle, his salty commentary and his devotion to his three-legged dog, Mujica steps down more popular than ever, with an approval rating over 60 percent.



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