Egyptian leader seeks power

President Hosni Mubarak, a close U.S. ally, was sworn in Tuesday for a fifth, six-year term after his landslide victory in the country's first contested presidential election.

Mubarak was sworn in by parliament speaker Fathi Serour during an emergency session held under tight security in downtown Cairo. A 21-gun salute followed the swearing in. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi attended the ceremony, drawing a round of applause as he entered the chamber.

The Egyptian leader later addressed the house, dominated by his ruling National Democratic Party, to outline the priorities of his new term, which runs to 2011.

Mubarak, 77 and only days short of completing 25 years in office, won 88 percent of the vote in the Sept. 7 election. However, only 23 percent of the 32 million registered voters took part in the election, leaving Mubarak with the support of 6.5 million voters in a country of some 72 million.

In a February decree, Mubarak had asked parliament to amend the constitution to allow multi-candidate presidential elections. The new system, which was adopted in May, replaced the yes/no referendums in which he had run unopposed four times since 1981, receiving more than 90 percent of the vote each time.

Nine candidates ran in the Sept. 7 election against Mubarak, but only two of them were serious challengers. Ayman Nour of the opposition Al-Ghad party and Noaman Gomaa of the Wafd party took 7.3 and 2.8 percent of the vote respectively.

During the campaign, Mubarak promised to surrender some of his wide reaching powers to the Cabinet and the legislature. He also pledged to implement a package of measures to create millions of jobs, better housing and health care and to raise wages for government employees, Reuters reports.

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