Alejandro Giammattei Falla, a doctor and retired surgeon on Tuesday was sworn in as new President of Guatemala.

During the ceremony that was attended by six heads of state, Giammattei said he would try to straighten the direction the country was moving in.

At the beginning of his inauguration speech, Giammattei said, “Let me speak to the real protagonists of today, those who are not in this big room, but I keep them in mind more today than ever before: thanks to the people of Guatemala”.

Several Latin American leaders, including Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, Colombian President Ivan Duque and President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, attended Giammattei’s swearing-in. The United States also sent a delegation to the ceremony, including acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The former surgeon and prison chief had run for the country’s top job three times before winning a runoff vote in August. A conservative politician who is opposed to same-sex marriage and abortion, Giammattei ran on a tough-on-crime platform that included reintroducing the death penalty.

“Today, more than ever, I know that I must relentlessly strive to deliver a legacy of prosperity and progress within four years. This includes regaining trust in the institutions of the state, which has been lost to corruption,” he added.

Guatemala is also among the 10 most violent nations on the planet and nearly 60 per cent of its 16 million inhabitants are poor, most of whom are indigenous. One in four also lives in extreme poverty.

The ceremony was attended by the leaders of Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Ecuador.

Giammattei is the 11th President to take office since Guatemala became a democracy in 1986.

(With inputs from agency)