Alberto Fernandez, of the Everyone’s Front coalition, was sworn in as President of Argentina on Tuesday at a ceremony in the National Congress.

During his first speech as president Fernandez urged unity to help pull the country out of an intractable economic crisis and at the same time attend to the needs of the less privileged.

“I have come to call on you, without distinction, to put Argentina on its feet, so it can begin to walk, step by step, with dignity, on the path to development with social justice,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez, 60, takes over from his predecessor Mauricio Macri.

In an hour-long speech, he criticized rising rates of hunger and poverty and said the country needed to revive growth to escape from “virtual default” after a period of painful austerity under the outgoing conservative Mauricio Macri.

“We have to heal so many open wounds in our homeland,” he said in the speech in Congress after he had symbolically taken the presidential baton and sash from Macri, whose administration was hit by recession and a spiralling debt crisis.

Fernández pledged to bridge social divisions and to roll out a “massive” credit system with low rates to bolster domestic demand.

In addition, accumulated inflation between January and October rose to 42.2 per cent, unemployment is running at 10.6 per cent, and the poverty rate is at 35.4 per cent.

“Without bread, there is no democracy or liberty,” said Fernandez, adding that his administration’s first move will be to launch Argentina’s Comprehensive Plan Against Hunger.

(With inputs from agency)