UPDATE 1-Macri's challenge: Restore Argentina's long-lost economic power
(Adds analyst quote, row over handover ceremony)
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES Dec 10 (Reuters) - Mauricio Macri takes over as president of Argentina on Thursday, promising to harness its vast natural resources and jettison populist policies to revive an economy that has for decades fallen short of its potential.
If he gets it right, investment could stream into the country, given its Pampas grains belt, promising technology sector, highly educated work force and some of the world's juiciest shale oil deposits.
Macri won the presidential election last month by pledging to ease trade and currency controls and give the free market a chance after heavy state control of the economy under outgoing leader Cristina Fernandez.
He will take the oath of office at midday local time (1500 GMT) in a ceremony Fernandez has refused to attend after a row over where Macri is to receive the presidential sash and ceremonial baton.
It will be the first time since the 1983 end of Argentina's military dictatorship that a president has not attended the inauguration of an elected successor.
Fernandez wanted to hand the sash and baton to Macri in Congress. He decided to hold that part of the handover later, at the presidential palace, and Fernandez refused.
"Everything about this transition has been abnormal, even by Argentine standards," said political analyst Ignacio Labaqui, referring to Fernandez's refusal to share normal transition information with Macri in the run-up to the inauguration. Continuación...