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Update Argentina: BBC reports riots as Argentina chooses new leader

As Argentina's parliament meets in emergency session to name a new president, demonstrators have been fighting running battles in the streets of the capital.
Riots as Argentina chooses leader
BBC World Service


As Argentina's parliament meets in emergency session to name a new president, demonstrators have been fighting running battles in the streets of the capital.
The election comes after the resignation of interim President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa after only seven days in office.

The successor is widely expected to be Eduardo Duhalde, a former vice-president and current senator of Buenos Aires province.

The violence broke out between supporters of Mr Duhalde's Peronist party and the opposition United Left, Argentine radio said.

Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to bring the stone-throwing rioters under control.

Thousands of police had their leave cancelled ahead of the vote and extra guards were drafted in to protect the government palace and congress buildings, the scenes of violent demonstrations at the weekend.

Congressional leader Eduardo Camano has temporarily taken the reins from Mr Saa, who said he did not have the support of colleagues in his own Peronist party to take on Argentina's drastic economic crisis.

- Security

The new frontrunner reportedly enjoys the approval of other congressional parties, which have indicated their agreement that whoever takes over now should remain in office until December 2003 - the official end of the term of President Fernando de la Rua, who was forced out by popular protests on 20 December.



I am begging people not to demonstrate, so we can have a chance to solve this crisis

Eduardo Camano, stand-in president
New presidential elections had been scheduled for March, but the MPs say they want the new leader to stay in power for longer, in the hope of bringing some stability back to the country.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler says the nomination of Mr Duhalde may well meet with hostility from the public at large.

Our correspondent says he may be tainted by his close ties with former president Carlos Menem and other key Peronist Party figures, whom many blame for plunging Argentina into its current economic and social crisis.

- Police have had their leave cancelled

But Mr Camano, who was sworn in for his brief spell in office on Monday night, has urged people not to demonstrate on the streets before congress meets.

"I am begging people not to demonstrate, so we can have a chance to solve this crisis," he said.

Some 45,000 police were on standby in and around the capital, with soldiers also helping guard the nearby government palace known as the Casa Rosada.

- No support

Mr Rodriguez Saa announced his resignation in a dramatic late-night televised address on Sunday.

Power should have passed automatically to Senate Chairman Ramos Puerta, but he too resigned minutes later on grounds of ill-health.

- Argentina in crisis
Early in December, IMF refuses to disburse $1.3 billion aid
20 December: President de la Rua resigns after riots
23 December: Adolfo Rodriguez Saa sworn in
Fails to win support for economic reforms
30 December: Mr Rodriguez Saa resigns
In his resignation announcement, Mr Rodriguez Saa listed his achievements during his short time in office as suspending payments on the country's foreign debt and announcing new austerity measures.

His residence had been besieged by angry demonstrators who banged pots and pans in a scaled-down version of protests which had brought down the previous government.

Demonstrators focused in particular on alleged corruption within Mr Rodriguez Saa's cabinet.
 
 

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