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Monmohan Singh Sworn in as India's Prime Minister - 2004-05-22


India has a new Prime Minister. Manmohan Singh was sworn into office today (Saturday) after hours of tough bargaining with coalition partners over key ministerial posts.

Mr. Singh, a Sikh, is India's first non-Hindu prime minister. He and his Cabinet took the oath of office in a colorful ceremony at New Delhi's presidential palace.

Mr. Singh's new government will be backed by 11 parties that have joined his Congress party in a coalition. Two communist parties and four smaller groups decided to support the coalition in parliament without formally joining it.

The new government is promising to continue with reforms that have led India to high economic growth -- but says it will also focus on the rural sector to benefit the country's poor.

On Friday, Mr. Singh took a break from talks with coalition partners to accompany his party's leader, Sonia Gandhi, to a shrine in New Delhi to mark the 13th anniversary of the murder of her husband, Rajiv, a former prime minister.

They placed marigold and rose petals on the slain leader's memorial and circled it barefoot as young Hindu monks chanted hymns.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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