Argentine president eschews re-election bid

Buenos Aires, Apr 21 (EFE).- Alberto Fernandez said Friday that he will not seek a second term as president of Argentina in the October elections.

“Dec. 10, 2023 is the exact day when we complete 40 years of democracy. That day I will hand over the presidential sash to the person legitimately elected by popular vote. I will work fervently for it to be colleague from our political space,” he said in a video posted on social media.

The same date in 1983 saw the inauguration of Raul Alfonsin as Argentina’s first democratically elected head of state since the military ousted Isabel Peron – the second wife of Juan Peron – in March 1976.

Fernandez, 64, said that it will be up to voters in August’s PASO primary election to choose the standard-bearers of the governing center-left alliance whose largest component is the party founded by Juan Peron.

So far, nobody has entered the race for the coalition’s presidential nomination, while several hopefuls are seeking to represent the conservative main opposition group, including Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta and former federal Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.

Also running for president is economist Javier Milei, who calls himself a libertarian but associates with apologists for the 1976-1983 military regime, which killed 30,000 people and brutalized tens of thousands more.

Despite his well-known disagreements with Vice President Cristina Fernandez (no relation), the president said Friday that he doesn’t have “a single adversary” in the governing coalition.

In the course of the slickly produced video, Alberto Fernandez recalled “the enormous privilege” of serving as Cabinet chief during the 2003-2007 administration of Nestor Kirchner, Cristina’s late husband.

At 70, Cristina Fernandez remains the face of Peronism, but her conviction last December on charges of corruption dating from the Kirchner government and her own 2007-2015 tenure as president was accompanied by a lifetime ban on public office.

Though she is seeking to have the verdict overturned, she has said that she will not be a candidate for any post in this year’s election.

Polls show that 70 percent of Argentines, battered by high inflation and rising poverty, disapprove of Alberto Fernandez’s performance as president.

But as Fernandez pointed out in his video, he inherited a struggling economy from conservative President Mauricio Macri and had only been in office for a few months when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. EFE


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