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Rousseff is Brazil's first female president

She was later named his chief of staff, which in Brazil is a powerful position from which Rousseff had control of the country's vast bureaucracy.

"People who doubt her abilities are plain wrong," said Riordan Roett, author of a recent book, "The New Brazil."

Foreign investors and business interests will be watching to see if Rousseff will take on nagging problems ranging from a Byzantine taxation system to an overvalued currency. Some analysts also say she has to rein in spending.

"The Lula administration overspent almost with abandon," said Amaury de Souza, a Rio de Janeiro business consultant. "And a bill will come due."

foregoj@washpost.comPaula Moura contributed to this report from Sao Paulo.

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