The leader of St. Lucia's former main opposition party was sworn in as prime minister Wednesday, promising to strengthen the tourism-dependent Caribbean island's economy, reduce crime and improve prospects for young people.
Kenny Anthony led the St. Lucia Labor Party to victory in Monday's parliamentary elections, winning a majority in the 17-member House of Assembly, according to nearly complete results released by the state-run Electoral Commission.
Electoral officials said Labor had won nine of the 15 seats declared so far, while the former governing United Workers Party held six. Two seats were still undecided.
Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy swore in Anthony on Wednesday afternoon in front of party colleagues at her official residence.
The 60-year-old Anthony, who served as St. Lucia's prime minister from 1997 to 2006, said the road ahead will be "difficult and challenging" and he called for unity.
"We have to do our utmost to work together as a team, as one people, and always remember that the paramount consideration has to be at all times the best interest of the people of St. Lucia," he said.
Former Prime Minister Stephenson King, who assumed the top government post in September 2007 following the death of Prime Minister John Compton, has not made any public statements.
During the campaign, Anthony's party pledged to immediately undertake a major review of the island's foreign relations policy if it won, something political analysts believe means a switch to renewed ties with China.
The issue has been a political football for years.
St. Lucia, with a population of roughly 170,000 people, had diplomatic relations with Taiwan for years under Compton. But after Compton's United Workers Party was defeated by the Labor Party in 1996, St. Lucia recognized China and dropped relations with Taiwan. Compton led his party back to power in 2006 elections and promptly re-established ties with Taiwan.