ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sworn in Thursday as Turkey's first popularly elected president, a position that will keep him in the nation's driving seat for at least another five years.
Erdogan was scheduled to appoint Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu — his designated successor as prime minster and loyal ally — to form a new government, following ceremonies at the presidential palace.
Taking the oath in parliament, Erdogan said: "As president I swear on my pride and honor that I will protect the state, its independence, the indivisible unity of the nation ... and that I will abide by the constitution, the rule of law, democracy ... and the principle of the secular republic."
Following a 101-gun salute, Erdogan headed to the mausoleum of the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, to lay a wreath.
Legislators from Turkey's main opposition party left parliament minutes before Erdogan arrived in protest of the man they accuse of not respecting the country's constitution. A legislator was seen throwing a copy of the constitution toward the parliament speaker, complaining that he was not allowed to speak.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the opposition party's leader, snubbed the inauguration ceremony. He has accused Erdogan of violating the constitution by not stepping down as prime minister immediately after his election as president.
Erdogan "will pledge allegiance to the constitution but he will lie. I don't want to witness that lie," Kilicdaroglu said earlier.
Erdogan has dominated Turkish politics for a decade and won Turkey's first direct presidential elections on Aug. 10. He has indicated he wants to transform the presidency from a largely ceremonial post into a more powerful position and his expected to hold sway in the country's running.
On Wednesday, Erdogan rejected claims that Davutoglu would merely do his bidding. He said the two would work "hand in hand" in achieving goals he has set for the country, which includes enacting a new constitution.
Dozens of foreign dignitaries are attending Erdogan's inauguration ceremony, but representation from Turkey's key allies in the West is at a low level, with the United States sending its acting ambassador in Ankara. Erdogan's image in the West has been hit by his increasingly authoritarian tendencies and by corruption allegations which the Turkish leader has rejected as a conspiracy to topple him.