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Monday, 31 December, 2001, 03:23 GMT
Argentina's seven-day president
Adolfo Rodriguez Saa
Mr Rodriguez Saa is a lifelong politician
Adolfo Rodriguez Saa has been governor of the Andean province of San Luis since 1983, in which time the province has gained a reputation - unusual in Argentina - for good economic management.

It is a record Mr Rodriguez Saa, 54, had been expected to exploit to run for president, until he was unexpectedly thrust centre-stage a week ago.

I believe that I shall have a very difficult role during the 60-90 days that I shall be in office

Adolfo Rodriguez Saa
An ambitious man, correspondents say he would not have accepted the nomination for the job of interim president unless he thought it could serve his longer-term aims.

Asked before his appointment if he planned to stand as a candidate in the scheduled 3 March election, Mr Rodriguez Saa appeared evasive.

"Although no-one will be banned from standing in that election, I believe that I shall have a very difficult role during the 60-90 days that I shall be in office. Thus, I shall devote all my efforts to this task," he said.

He could not have known just how accurate that prediction would turn out to be.

Tanned and tidy

A trained lawyer, Mr Rodriguez Saa - who is married with five children - is a life-long politician who became a provincial legislator at the early age of 25.

He is usually seen tanned and tidily dressed, with a trademark wide-mouthed smile. He is said to be an obsessive player of bridge with a preference for neatness and order.

He is still tainted by a sex scandal in 1983, when he was found in a love motel with a woman and two men - though Mr Rodriguez Saa has always said he was the victim of a kidnapping and blackmail plot.

On the San Luis government web site, Mr Rodriguez Saa says he has developed a "new economic model" in the province, which has managed to "transform" it.

He used the same phrases in interviews given after his name was put forward as interim president, though the differences between the small province of San Luis and Argentina's huge economic problems suggest the similarities end there.

In San Luis, where he is known simply as "El Adolfo", Mr Rodriguez Saa is respected for winning re-election four times.

But he is not without critics, including one local politician who last year accused Mr Rodriguez Saa of owning more than 20 homes - despite having become governor as the owner of only one.

The BBC's Stephen Evans
"People who borrowed in dollars will have their debt increased"
David de Rosa, Yale University
"They must decide what to do about the currency"
Hans Humes, Van Eck Emerging Markets Fund
"What they will probably default on is the remainder of the external bonds"
See also:

21 Dec 01 | Business
Bush backs IMF austerity measures
21 Dec 01 | Americas
Profile: Ramon Puerta
21 Dec 01 | Business
Argentines wait for new policy
21 Dec 01 | Media reports
Argentine press warns of dangers ahead
13 Dec 01 | Americas
Argentina delays pension payments
09 Dec 01 | Business
Argentina fails to win IMF reprieve
22 Dec 01 | Americas
Viewpoint: There is no future here
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