Former World Bank official Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as Afghanistan's new president Monday, marking the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history.
Mr. Ghani took the oath of office in a ceremony at the heavily guarded presidential palace in Kabul. Streets throughout the capital were closed to most traffic, and helicopters circled over the city amid threats of insurgent violence.
The inauguration also marks the exit of Hamid Karzai , who had run the country since he was installed as president with U.S. backing in 2001. The country then had emerged from a civil war and Taliban rule.
"Today in my heart I have the same hopes for the country's future when I started as the head of interim government 13 years ago," Mr. Karzai said. "During our history we have started from zero."
The day was marred by violence, however, with insurgents storming a district headquarters in the eastern province of Paktia, local officials said. A bomb reportedly went off near Kabul airport Monday morning, but security officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
Following Monday's transfer of power, Mr. Ghani's government is expected to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington that would pave the way for U.S. and allied troops to remain in the country after 2014 to conduct training and counterterrorism missions.