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Obama set to be sworn in for second term

Preprations under way for presidential inauguration, with Vice President Joe Biden having already taken the oath.
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2013 15:56
In his inaugural speech, President Barack Obama is expected to talk about need for political compromise [Reuters]

Barack Obama, the US president, will take the oath of office for the second and final time this weekend during an inauguration celebration that kicks off his second term in a more muted tone than his historic swearing-in four years ago.

On Sunday, following a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama will be sworn in officially at the White House at 16:55 GMT, meeting the constitutional requirement that he do so on January 20.

In a tradition honoured since that date falls on a Sunday, he will repeat the procedure on Monday during a public ceremony at the US Capitol.

Obama's speech on Monday will be the centerpiece of the celebration and a chance to lay out his vision for the next four years.

He is expected to talk about the need for political compromise where possible, a nod to the divisive fights with the Republican-led House of Representatives over the "fiscal cliff" and raising the US debt ceiling.

The audience is not expected to be as big as in 2009 when a record 1.8 million people assembling at the National Mall to witness his first swearing-in.

However, the turnout is projected at 600,000 to 800,000, with millions more watching on television.

With the public ceremony falling on the national holiday honouring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, Obama will also have a chance to draw historic parallels.

We are going to be watching what kind of speech the President makes this time. Probably gone are the soaring rhetoric, Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane said from Washington.

Daunting challenges

Obama kicked off inauguration events on Saturday, rolling up his sleeves at a school renovation project as he joined in a nationwide day of community service to celebrate King's legacy.

Workers, meanwhile, were putting the finishing touches on viewing

 

 Al Jazeera discusses Obama's foreign policy challenges

stands stretching along the parade route, security barriers were going up, and thousands of police and National Guard troops were being deployed around the city.

Sunday’s events began with the swearing in ceremony of Vice President Joe Biden at the Naval Observatory  by Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the supreme court, making her the first Hispanic judge to ever administer an oath of office for one of the nation's two highest offices.

Although Obama won re-election decisively in November and his public approval ratings have hovered above 50 per cent, he will usher in his second term facing an array of daunting challenges.

Battles are brewing with Republicans over spending, taxes, the national debt limit, gun control and immigration reform, while overseas he has the tasks of winding down the war in Afghanistan and reining in Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Both times he will be sworn in by Justice John Roberts of the supreme court who, in 2009 after flubbing the oath the first time, administered it to Obama again in the White House the day after his inauguration.

The president's two recitations this year, therefore, will be the third and fourth time he has taken the oath.

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