It is time for to look to the future – that was the key message from Alassane Ouattara as he was finally inaugurated as president of Ivory Coast.
The hope of many is that the ceremony will bring to an end a decade of bloody conflict and instability.
Among the guests was French President Nicolas Sarkozy. France, the former colonial power, played a key role in finally bringing Ouattara to this moment.
Ouattara’s election in November prompted a civil war which only ended when French forces helped his troops seize incumbent Laurent Gbagbo who refused to accept defeat.
“My dear fellow-countrymen, this consecration belongs to you, this inauguration is your victory, the victory of a sovereign people,” Ouattara told those present at the ceremony, Yamoussourko.
Security is still tight in Ivory Coast. But Ouattara’s plea for unity, for a healing of the north-south divide that has brought this once prosperous country to its knees over the last 10 years, has been largely welcomed.
However, the allegations of crimes against humanity on both sides during the last six months may make the task harder.