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Friday, 19 January, 2001, 17:21 GMT
Bush promises fresh start
Geroge W Bush and Ricky Martin
George W Bush on stage with pop star Ricky Martin
George W Bush put his best foot forward as he prepared to become the 43rd US president on Saturday.

Sashaying on stage with pop star Ricky Martin, he kicked off four days of celebrations on Friday with a party before a crowd of 15,000 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

I will treat the office with care, never take it for granted, and always remember to whom it really belongs

George W Bush
But even as Mr Bush's parties got under way, security forces in Washington went to high alert for an expected flood of protesters hostile to Mr Bush's policies.

Protests are planned for the swearing-in ceremony at midday local time (1700 GMT) on Saturday by a diverse range of groups advocating causes ranging from civil rights to the death penalty.

Mr Bush told supporters on Friday: "I am honoured to serve and I am ready to start.

President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton: Scandal prone
"A new administration is an opportunity for change and a new direction.

"That is the promise I have made, a promise I will keep - to give America a fresh start."

He added, in a veiled reference to the scandals which dogged the Clinton presidency: "I will treat the office with care, never take it for granted, and always remember to whom it really belongs."

Security challenge

On Thursday police arrested three Greenpeace activists who scaled the Interior Department's headquarters and unfurled a huge banner protesting against Mr Bush's environmental policies.

America must not and cannot disentangle itself from the world

Bill Clinton

For the first time, people attending the parade will have to pass through police and Secret Service checkpoints and have their bags searched.

Some demonstrators have challenged the right of the security services to impose these measures at a US district court.

But many of the groups planning to protest would have been likely to demonstrate regardless of the election winner.

Clinton farewell

In a televised farewell to the nation on Thursday, President Bill Clinton set out what he sees as the achievements of his administration.

He said the country was in a strong position after his eight years in power.

Clinton's low points
Impeachment and the Lewinsky affair
Failure of health care reform
Deadlock in Middle East peace
"America has done well," he said, listing prosperity, a drop in crime, stronger families and a cleaner environment among his successes.

But Mr Clinton also offered some advice to President-elect Bush.

He listed three things that America - and by implication Mr Bush - should do.

He said that America should maintain fiscal responsibility and continue paying off the national debt.

He cautioned against isolationism and urged Americans to remember their country's international responsibilities.

Clinton's high points
Economic boom
Welfare reform
Peace efforts in Kosovo and Northern Ireland
And he called for harmony in race relations at home. "America cannot lead unless we weave threads of our coat of many colours into one America," he said.

Mr Clinton leaves office with poll ratings higher than any other modern president, despite the scandals.

At the age of 54, Mr Clinton is also the youngest president to leave office since Theodore Roosevelt died aged 50.

But there was no mention in the speech about his affair with Monica Lewinsky or his impeachment by the House of Representatives which resulted from the sex-and-lies scandal. Nor was there reference to the Whitewater property scandal.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"America's next president is taking the stage"
The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Washington
"Characteristically, Mr Clinton he could not resist giving advice"
The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"There's a great belief in the office of presidency"
The BBC's Clare English in Washington
"Clinton fired three warning shots over the bows of the next administration"

Inauguration:

Bush presidency:

PICTURE GALLERIES

Texts and transcripts:

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

14 Jan 01 | Americas
14 Dec 00 | Americas
19 Jan 01 | Entertainment
13 Jan 01 | Americas
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