Christian Wulff sworn in as Germany's new President

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Christian Wulff sworn in as Germany's new President
Berlin:  Christian Wulff was sworn in as Germany's 10th President on Thursday, two days after he was elected in an embarrassing third round of voting by the electoral college of federal and state parliamentarians.

He took the oath of office at a brief ceremony in Bundestag, lower House of German Parliament, in presence of former President Horst Kohler, whose unexpected resignation a month ago, led to the election of a new President.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, her Cabinet and members of both chambers of German Parliament were also present.

Wulff, who at 51 is the youngest President in Germany's history, said in his address that integration of immigrants into mainstream society will be his top priority.

He warned against discriminating foreigners and said immigrants and their children should get same opportunities as the native population for education and to find jobs.

He referred to his initiatives in this area during his six-year term as the Prime Minister of the state of Lower Saxony and pointed out that earlier this year he took a Muslim of Turkish origin as a member of his Cabinet for the first time in Germany at the state or national level.

Wulff said he wanted to "build bridges between young and old, people from the East and the West, immigrants and native Germans, employers, employees and the jobless and people with and without handicaps."

Referring to global financial crisis he said those responsible for it should be made accountable and financial markets should be brought under more stringent regulations.

That can be achieved only through European and international cooperation, but that is very complex, he said.

Wulff, who Merkel's conservative-liberal coalition's candidate, failed to secure absolute majority in Wednesday's first two rounds of voting even though coalition partners had a comfortable majority in electoral college made up of 622 members of the Bundestag and an equal number of parliamentarians from state legislatures.

In a display of anger and discontent with the performance of the nine-month-old coalition government and lack of confidence in Merkel's leadership, 44 deputies of the conservative-liberal coalition either abstained or voted for the Opposition candidate Joachim Gauck, a civil rights activist and theologian in former East Germany.

However, in third round voting, the rebels joined ranks and cast their votes for Wulff, enabling him to seal his victory with an absolute majority.

Wulff polled 625 votes in the 1242-member assembly, two votes more than the minimum required for an absolute majority. His main rival, Gauck, candidate of opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Green Party polled 494 votes.

The left Party, which fielded former TV female journalist Lukrezia Jochimsen, pulled out of the contest in the third round and abstained from the voting, indirectly supporting the election of Wulff.

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