25,000 battle hardened US troops on stand-by. Trump dodges inauguration:

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Joe Biden is to be sworn in as US president, taking the helm of a nation wracked by political division, economic anguish and an unrelenting pandemic.

Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will take the oath of office alongside him in Washington DC, which has been fortified amid fears of civil unrest.

Some 25,000 troops will guard the inauguration ceremony after a deadly riot at the Capitol earlier this month.

Donald Trump will leave the White House for the last time, bound for Florida.

He will not be attending the inauguration ceremony.

 

Mr Biden will be sworn in as 46th president of the United States by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts shortly before midday (17:00 GMT) on Wednesday outside the US Capitol.

Due to Covid restrictions, the ceremony will be bereft of the cheering throngs of well-wishers traditional at inaugurations. It will also see extra-tight security after the US Capitol was breached by violent pro-Trump protesters on 6 January.

Among those present will be three former presidents: Barack Obama – whom Mr Biden served for eight years as vice-president – Bill Clinton and George W Bush.

Outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence will also attend the ceremony, skipping Mr Trump’s farewell event at a military base outside the nation’s capital.

Aides say Mr Biden, a Democrat, will use his inaugural address of about half an hour to deliver an optimistic call for national unity after his Republican predecessor’s turbulent tenure.

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