Najib Razak was sworn in as Malaysia's prime minister Friday, assuming charge of reuniting a fractured ruling party and shoring up an economy in crisis.
Najib took the oath of office in front of the Malaysian king at a palace ceremony broadcast live on national television.
The transfer of power follows the resignation Thursday of his predecessor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who analysts say failed to live up to his promises during six unremarkable years in office.
"I, Najib Razak, who has been chosen to hold the post of prime minister, swear that I will carry out the responsibilities which I have been entrusted with to the best of my ability," the 55-year-old said. "I will be true to Malaysia and will defend and uphold the constitution."
A religious official then read several verses from the Koran to pray for a successful leadership.
Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said he expected Najib to take a tough stance against critics in a bid to shore up his leadership, after the government last week acted to ban two opposition newspapers. "We expect Najib to take tough and repressive actions to strengthen his position," he said. "Najib should free all political detainees held under the tough security laws, allow press freedom, ensure an independent police force and judiciary," he added.
The new premier hass been forced to reject charges that his administration would adopt hardline tactics, including the detention of its opponents, under tough internal security laws.
Amnesty International urged Najib to lift restrictions on the freedom of expression affecting bloggers, opposition politicians and human rights activists in Malaysia.
Najib's accession to the premiership completes a transition triggered by elections last year when the ruling United Malays National Organisation party (UMNO) slumped to its worst ever performance.