Mexico City: Enrique Pena Nieto takes over as Mexican President on Saturday, offering a shot at redemption for the party that shaped modern Mexico if he can bring about an end to years of violence and economic underperformance.

Returning the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to power after a 12-year hiatus, the 46-year-old Pena Nieto aims to use a recent improvement in the economy's fortunes to spark faster growth.

Telegenic and married to a popular actress, he also promises to restore calm after more than 60,000 people were killed in violence between drug gangs and security forces during the six-year term of his conservative predecessor, Felipe Calderon.

"Unfortunately, this has been something which has made or formed the image of Mexico in the world," Pena Nieto said during a trip to Europe in October. "That's why there's no doubt dealing with lawlessness more effectively is a priority."

He says he is committed to the fight against organized crime, which dominated Calderon's presidency, but has also stressed his main goal is to reduce the violence.

Pena Nieto, a former governor of the state of Mexico, will be sworn in as president at a ceremony on Saturday. He won the July 1 election with about 38 percent of the vote, more than 6 points ahead of second-place Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

 The new president's right-hand man, Luis Videgaray, and close political ally Miguel Angel Osorio Chong will be the two key figures in his Cabinet, running the finance and interior ministries respectively.

Having helped shepherd a labor reform through Congress since his election victory, Pena Nieto now wants to pass legislation to strengthen Mexico's tax base and allow more private investment in lumbering state oil giant Pemex.

If he is successful, the reforms could help spur stronger growth and create jobs, blunting the allure of organized crime.

Like many of Mexico's best-known institutions, Pemex was a creation of the PRI, which ruled for 71 uninterrupted years until it was voted out in 2000. By then, the party had become a byword for corruption, cronyism and vote-rigging.

(Agencies)

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