Archives>LATIN AMERICA> Argentine interim leader resigns

Argentine interim leader resigns
BBC News . 31 december 2001

Anger and uncertainty is growing amongst Argentines
Mr Rodriguez Saa admitted defeat

Argentine interim President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa has resigned, just seven days after taking office.
In a dramatic late-night televised address, he told the nation he had failed to win the backing of his Peronist party for a way out of the economic crisis.

His departure came after renewed protests on Friday night over the collapsing economy prompted his cabinet to offer to resign en masse.

Mr Rodriguez Saa spent Sunday holding emergency talks with Peronist provincial governors, but most of them failed to turn up.

He is reported to have ignored pleas not to stand down, before flying back to his home province of San Luis where he made his speech.

He said his resignation took effect immediately - he had been due to hold office until elections in March.

Power is now in the hands of provisional Senate Chairman Ramon Puerta.

"I did not have any other choice," Mr Rodriguez Saa said.

He listed his achievements during his short time in office as suspending payments on the country's foreign debt and announcing new austerity measures.

The BBC's Daniel Schweimler in Buenos Aires says the caretaker president's failure to get the support he needed from his own party plunges the country ever deeper into crisis.

He says there are no obvious candidates to replace Mr Rodriguez Saa from his own party.

Weekend of turmoil

Mr Rodriguez Saa's departure capped a troubled day during which he tried to shore up support for his crumbling government.

Of 14 governors summoned to his residence in the Atlantic resort of Chapadmalal, only five turned up, and the meeting was postponed.

Outside, angry demonstrators banged pots and pans in a scaled-down version of protests which rocked the capital on Friday night.

The official reason advanced for the governors' failure to attend was bad weather, but some were unambiguous about their non-appearance.

"Argentines don't have the luxury of watching politicians who are only worried about their personal goals while the country goes up in flames," one, Carlos Ruckauf, governor of Buenos Aires province, told the newspaper Clarin.

Earlier in the day Mr Rodriguez Saa did manage a breakthrough in talks with the country's bank.

They agreed to remain open for extended hours on Monday, to enable customers to withdraw salaries and pensions. The agreement was "a contribution to civil peace", he said, after weeks of turbulence which have seen 27 people killed in riots and the resignation of Mr Rodriguez Saa's predecessor, Fernando de la Rua. But a controversial 1,000-peso ($1,000) monthly limit on cash withdrawals remains in place.