Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega begins new presidential term

Ortega: 'We are revolutionary twins... Iran and Nicaragua'

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Daniel Ortega has been sworn in for a controversial third term as Nicaragua's president following his landslide victory in November's polls.

The former Sandinista guerrilla leader has promised "no dramatic changes" during his next five years in office.

The main opposition party boycotted the ceremony in Managua, saying the poll was fraudulent and unconstitutional.

Mr Ortega's critics also accuse him of seeking to concentrate power in his hands and stay in office indefinitely.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were among the leaders attending the inauguration in the capital.

Help for poor

Mr Ortega, 66, was returned to office during the evening ceremony in Managua's Revolution Square, which was decorated with thousands of flowers.

At the scene

Daniel Ortega made a quick show of unity with Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad soon after stepping onstage at his inauguration ceremony, with the three huddling together and clasping hands. Mr Chavez later received a standing ovation and kissed his hands, raising them in appreciation of the crowd.

The mood throughout the ceremony was youthful and informal - blinking Christmas lights festooned the trees, and guests sat on plastic lawn chairs covered in white cloth.

Among the most noticeable dynamics of the crowd were legions of Mr Ortega's young supporters clad in purple T-shirts which read "Love, Peace, and Life."

Mr Ortega concluded the night with a lengthy speech addressing topics ranging from nuclear weapons, to religion, to drug trafficking. As he spoke, a Spanish-language version of John Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance" played softly on repeat.

Some 8,000 guests - including the presidents of all the other Central American nations - watched as Mr Ortega read the oath.

The former rebel won the election with more than 60% of the vote, while his Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) won a big enough congressional majority to enact constitutional changes.

Sandinista congressional leader Edwin Castro has denied that there any plans to reform the constitution.

Nicaragua's First Lady and presidential spokeswoman Rosario Murillo earlier said Mr Ortega was "ready" to lead one of the "best governments" in Nicaragua's history.

Mr Ortega was allowed to run after the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Court overturned a ban on consecutive terms.

Mr Ortega previously ruled Nicaragua for 11 years after leading the Sandinista revolution that overthrew dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

He returned to power in elections in 2006 after three failed attempts.

Since then, the economy has grown steadily, although Nicaragua remains one of the poorest countries in the region.

Mr Ortega himself has courted the business sector.

He has also introduced social programmes to help the country's poor, with help put at some $500m (£323m) a year from Venezuela.

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