Economy tops Obama's challenges

US president-elect starts forming his team amid financial crisis and two protracted wars.

    Obama has just a few weeks to put his administration team together before he takes power [Reuters]
    On Al Jazeera

    The world after Bush

    Amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Obama wants to move quickly in order to handle a probable recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Following quickly on his resounding election victory on Tuesday, Obama has reportedly selected his chief of staff already.

    Rahm Emanuel, regarded among the Washington political elite as a master strategist, has accepted the key post, Democratic sources said on Wednesday.

    Multiple challenges

    Emanuel who, like Obama, is from Chicago, helped mastermind the Democrats' capture of the House of Representatives from the Republicans two years ago.

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    Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera's Washington correspondent, said Emanuel is seen "as a tough politician with strong links to Israel".

    Obama has already launched a transition team that is working fast to fill the next administration's economic and homeland security teams, according to one of the Democratic sources.

    Heading up that team are Valerie Jarrett, a close friend of Obama; Pete Rouse, his US senate chief of staff; and John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton.

    Obama's office is maintaining secrecy on the transition, which is occurring in the 11 weeks before January 20 when he will be sworn in as successor to George Bush.

    Bush earlier praised what he called "an impressive victory" against Obama's rival, Republican John McCain.

    "I had a warm conversation with president-elect Barack Obama," Bush said.

    "I congratulated him and Senator [Joe] Biden on their impressive victory.

    "I told the president-elect he can count on complete co-operation from my administration as he makes the transition to the White House."

    'Extraordinary step'

    Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said Obama's election was "an extraordinary step forward".

    Emanuel has been reportedly offerred the post of White House chief of staff [EPA]
    "As an African-American, I'm especially proud. America has been through a long journey, making race not a factor in our lives," she said.

    Meanwhile, millions of people around the world continued on Wednesday to celebrate Obama's historic victory.

    Outside of the White House in Washington DC in the early hours of Wednesday, thousands of people crowded the streets, chanting "goodbye!" and "pack your sh*t!" in anger at Bush as well as hailing Obama with cries of "yes we can!" and "yes we did!".

    In his victory speech at Chicago's Grant Park the previous night, Obama told supporters: "Change has come to America".

    "If there's anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, tonight is your answer."

    With results given in 48 states and Washington DC, Obama had swept past the 270 electoral college votes needed for victory, taking 349 to McCain's 162.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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