Luis Rodolfo Abinader has been sworn in as president of the Dominican Republic following his election win last month.
The 53-year-old businessman, who had never held elected office, won a four-year term on July 5, ending a 16-year run in power by a centre-left party.
He had finished second in the 2016 presidential election.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the attendees at Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony in Santo Domingo.
His trip came two days after the Dominican Republic was the only country on the 15-member UN security council to support a US resolution to indefinitely extend an arms embargo against Iran.
Blessed to attend President @LuisAbinader’s inauguration mass at the Basilica Cathedral. I’m optimistic about this chapter in the U.S.-Dominican partnership. I pray for our leadership, that we make progress toward a more peaceful and prosperous region. pic.twitter.com/YZ3T8sK1Oh
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) August 16, 2020
“This election resounds as an example to other nations of the power of democracy and what is possible when countries prioritize the wishes of their people,” Pompeo tweeted after Abinader’s inauguration, saying he was “optimistic about this chapter in US-Dominican partnership”.
The elections in the Dominican Republic took place as the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping across the Caribbean nation of some 10.5 million people.
Abinader himself had spent weeks before the election in isolation following a positive test for the virus, and the vote itself had been postponed from May due to COVID-19.
US Iran tensions
Relations between the US and Iran have further deteriorated since President Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its nuclear capabilities in exchange for sanctions relief.
The US has since implemented a policy of maximum sanctions against Tehran.
After the failed Security Council bid, Trump said he would pursue the sanctions via the so-called “snapback” mechanism outlined in the deal.
EU officials have since said because the US is no longer a party to the deal, they cannot force the reinstatement of sanctions by the US.