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Montevideo, December 1st 2022 - 19:32 UTC

 

 

Argentine president resigns amid crisis.

Thursday, December 20th 2001 - 20:00 UTC
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Argentine President Fernando De la Rúa resigned Thursday and left the presidential palace in a helicopter amid celebrations in the streets as the country faces what could be history's worst debt default by a sovereign nation.

His resignation followed two days of nationwide rioting and came after the opposition Peronist party refused to form a coalition government with De la Rúa. De la Rua gave his resignation letter to the president of the Senate before leaving the presidential palace for his private residence.

"I trust my decision will contribute to pacify the country and maintain the institutional continuity of the republic. I therefore ask the Honorable Congress kindly to accept it," the letter said, according to a translation by Reuters. "I salute you with my highest regards and esteem for God and my country."

Following hours of tense and violent demonstrations, demonstrators cheered and celebrated in the streets after De la Rua left. The National Assembly has to formally accept the resignation. The president of the Senate, Ramon Puerta, is next in line but would have to be ratified by the National Assembly as interim president. National elections would have to be held within 90 to 100 days.

De la Rua was a former Buenos Aires mayor and was in the second year of his four-year term. Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo resigned earlier in the day.

Before the resignations, protesters rallied outside De la Rua's presidential palace where riot police on horseback repeatedly pushed them back with batons, water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. Hundreds were arrested. Across the city, rioters smashed store windows and ransacked buildings. Fires were set on street corner after street corner, in trash bins and at bus stops. More than 2,000 people have been arrested nationwide. Reports of the number of dead cite anywhere from six to 20 people killed since the riots began Wednesday.

"I'm going to fulfill my duty to the end," De la Rua said in a speech before his resignation. De la Rua late Wednesday declared a state of siege that suspends constitutional rights for 30 days and gives the government wide-ranging power to stop riots and other violence. Rioters who ransacked and set fire to grocery stores and other shops around the capital Wednesday said they were hungry and complained the government has not helped them. The government agreed to release $7 million to provide food for the neediest. Pro

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