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Barack Obama becomes nation's 44th president

Washington_Barack Hussein Obama is now the nation's 44th president - and first black chief executive.

Even before he took the oath of office, Obama assumed the country's highest office by mandate of the U.S. Constitution.

The 20th Amendment specifies that the terms of office of the president and vice president "shall end at noon on the 20th day of January ... and the terms of their successors shall then begin."

And so, the transfer of power was complete when the clock struck noon.

Text of President Barack Obama's inaugural address

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