Third time's a charm: Obama to celebrate with oaths, parade

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama will take the oath of office for the third, fourth and final time this weekend during an inauguration celebration that kicks off his second term in a more muted tone than his historic swearing-in four years ago.

High unemployment and partisan fights over fiscal policies have drained some of the hope that marked Obama's first swearing-in after he swept to victory on a mantle of change in 2008 to become America's first black president.

This time around, there is a less festive inauguration.

On Sunday, following a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Obama will be sworn in officially at the White House at 11.55am EST (1655 GMT), meeting the constitutional requirement that he do so on Jan 20. That portion will be private - except for a media presence - with a small audience of mostly family members.

Obama repeats the procedure on Monday during a public ceremony at the US Capitol.

Both times he will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts who, in 2009 after flubbing the oath the first time, administered it to Obama again in the White House the day after his inauguration. The president's two recitations this year will be the third and fourth time he has taken the oath.

It will be only the second time he has made an inaugural address, however, and millions worldwide will be watching. Some 800,000 people are expected to flock to Washington for the event, down from a record 1.8 million in 2009.

Obama is expected to talk about the need for political compromise where possible - a nod to the divisive fights with the Republican-led House of Representatives over the "fiscal cliff" and raising the US debt ceiling.

He will emphasise that the values on which the United States was founded should still guide the country in the 21st century and encourage Americans to make their voices heard to influence lawmakers' actions, according to an administration official.

He will also touch on the goals he hopes to address in his second term, while leaving detailed policy blueprints for his State of the Union address next month, the official said.

Deficit reduction, gun control, immigration reform, and energy policy are likely to be top priorities in his second term.

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