Leftist leader takes reins in Mexico vowing to help poor

Photo credit CORRECTS BYLINE - Mexico's new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador walks with indigenous religious leaders for a traditional indigenous ceremony at the Zocalo, in Mexico City, Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018. Mexicans are getting more than just a new president Saturday. The inauguration of Lopez Obrador will mark a turning point in one of the world's most radical experiments in opening markets and privatization. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)
By The Associated Press

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Leftist politician Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has assumed Mexico's presidency with a promise — to profoundly transform Latin America's second-biggest economy and to lead a government free of corruption.

Seemingly tireless at age 65, Lopez Obrador breezed through a day of public appearances Saturday that included taking the oath of office and speaking to Congress and attending an inaugural celebration at Mexico City's main square.

He received a spiritual cleansing by indigenous leaders, then closed the day with a folksy 90-minute speech to thousands of jubilant fans vowing to help the poor in a nation where almost half the population lives in poverty.

He told them: "We are going to govern for everyone, but we are going to give preference to the most impoverished and vulnerable."