UK & World News

  • 20 January 2013, 14:18

Barack Obama Kicks Off Inauguration Events

US President Barack Obama will take the first of two oaths for his second term later today.

Mr Obama will be sworn in during a small ceremony at the White House.

He will take the oath of office again on Monday before hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall, followed by the traditional parade and formal balls.

But the mood is less festive than it was in January 2009, when the swearing in of the country's first black president drew a record 1.8 million people.

High unemployment, a tough election campaign and partisan fights over fiscal policies have taken a toll.

Still, some 800,000 people are expected to flock to Washington for the event. The star-studded inauguration includes acts by Beyonce and Katy Perry.

Thousands of workers and volunteers are making final preparations for the ceremonies. Hotels and government buildings along the parade route were adorned with red, white and blue bunting.

Mr Obama was still working on his inaugural address. He is expected to talk about the need for political compromise where possible, as well as detailing the priorities of his second term.

Mr Obama and first lady Michelle yesterday participated in a day of service, hoping to encourage Americans to follow suit with volunteering projects.

Mr Obama added the day of service projects to the inaugural schedule in 2009 and he is hoping the event becomes a tradition for future presidents.

The White House says the call to service is a way for Americans to honour the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the civil rights leader's march on Washington.

The White House did not say in advance what Mr Obama's service project would be this time, but it will take place in the Washington area.