YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) _ President Paul Biya was sworn in to a seven-year term Monday, promising to build his country democratically but cautioning that it would take time.

The West African country's three main opposition parties boycotted the swearing-in, after having stayed away from Biya's Oct. 12 re-election.

Only state-run media and handpicked reporters were allowed in for Monday's ceremony in front of the National Assembly, but sources said the three parties' 43 seats were filled by government supporters.

The opposition parties boycotted the October vote because Biya, who already has served 14 years in office, refused to allow an independent commission to oversee the balloting. They charged that the results would be meaningless because Biya would declare himself president no matter what the outcome.

Biya won a 1992 ballot that was denounced as fraudulent by international observers as well as his challengers. He retains tight control of the media and is intolerant of opposition.

In his speech, Biya vowed to improve Cameroon's economy, saying he would create jobs and battle health problems and hunger.

``Cameroonians have suffered a lot by expecting much for too long,'' he said, adding that he expects the unemployment rate to drop.

On the question of political and social reforms, he said Cameroon's democracy ``needs time to affirm and consolidate itself.''

Biya also promised that his government would protect foreign investment and honor its commitments under a new International Monetary Fund loan program.