Argentina gets new president for a day
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (CNN) -- For a fourth time in less than two weeks, a new president was sworn in Monday as the head of Argentina -- but the latest chief will only hold the job for a day, while a longer-term candidate is found.
The move was made less 24 hours after interim President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa resigned Sunday, and the man to whom the post would have fallen said he also didn't want the job of leading a country reeling from a devastating economic crisis.
As a result, Eduardo Camaño -- president of the national Chamber of Representatives and a Peronist party member, but little known outside political circles -- took the oath of office.
He will serve as president until the legislative assembly meets Tuesday to vote on a new president.
Rodriguez Saa, who took the interim post a week ago after President Fernando de la Rua resigned, said he was resigning Sunday because his Peronist party had not supported his efforts to fix the country's economic woes. De la Rua was forced out after the protests and the refusal of the opposition Peronist Party to form a coalition government.
The protests were sparked by the worsening economic crisis that sent unemployment close to 20 percent and put the country on the brink of defaulting on its $132 billion debt.
The presidency was initially passed back to the head of the Senate, Ramon Puerta, who held the job for 48 hours just over a week ago while Rodriguez Saa was decided upon. But Puerta rejected the job, throwing the country's power structure into another round of political and economic chaos.
Congress will also decide whether it wants a new leader to serve out the rest of de la Rua's term, which would have ended in 2003, or remain with an interim president until new elections. One name being bandied about as someone to serve out de la Rua's term is Eduardo Duhalde, who was a 1999 presidential candidate.
New elections have been scheduled for March 3.
Blames entrenched powers
Even as he announced his resignation, Rodriguez Saa argued that he had done a good job but was defeated by entrenched powers who did not want him to change the way the country was run.
"In these seven days, I was able to do what hasn't been done in 30 years in this country," he said.
Rodriguez Saa said he had begun an aggressive effort to cut government waste and create jobs, and lifted the state of siege in the capital imposed after the rioting that ultimately toppled him.
"I made a great effort; the Argentine people made a great effort," he said. "But the wolves or the lobbies that run loose didn't understand the sense of the new times, and they want to maintain the privileges of the old Argentina.
"I am not going to be the president of the continuity of this old Argentina. I am not going to be a president who represses the people to support the positions of those in power, no matter how much I'm asked to."
Rodriguez Saa had been slated to serve until April 5. The fragility of his government became apparent Friday, when his Cabinet members offered their resignations amid accusations of corruption and further unrest over the worsening economy in Argentina.
The country is entering its fourth year of recession and has an unemployment rate of 18.3 percent. It faces a profound economic crisis, with 42 months of recession and 15 million people in poverty.
Rodriguez Saa took power in a wave of euphoria, which dissipated quickly with the corruption accusations leveled at his Cabinet and a ferocious response from the middle class over imposition of limits on the amount of cash they could withdraw from banks.
Over the weekend, more middle-class demonstrators protested violently in the streets of Buenos Aires against his administration. About a dozen people were in riots Saturday.
In Crawford, Texas, U.S. President George Bush described himself as "worried" by the situation in Argentina, but predicted the country would weather the crisis.
"I am confident the country will stay together until elections, and once they elect a president, we will work with them," Bush said.
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