Abidjan: President Alassane Ouattara took the oath of office on Saturday, five months after the election that nearly ripped Ivory Coast in two and left hundreds dead when Ouattara refused to concede defeat.

"In front of the sovereign people of Ivory Coast, I solemnly swear on my honor to respect and faithfully defend the constitution" Ouattara said. "And protect the rights and liberties of our citizens."

Ouattara spent much of that time barricaded inside a hotel, surrounded by troops which were loyal to Laurent Gbagbo, who used the army to terrorise the population.

Gbagbo was removed by force last month and is now under house arrest in a remote town 700 kilometers north of Abidjan.

The price of installing the country's democratically elected leader was abrupt. Hundreds of civilians were killed, first by the army that was controlled by Gbagbo and later by the former rebel group that seized control of the country and toppled Gbagbo.

According to international observers, Ouattara won the November 28 election with 54 percent of the vote. Gbagbo loyalists had tried to stop the results from being published.

(Agencies)