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Saturday, 9 February, 2002, 02:39 GMT
Argentina overhauls political system
Demonstrator displays a $100 note
Argentines blame the political system for their woes
The Argentine president has announced major constitutional changes to help restore political and economic stability to the country.

Speaking on national television, Eduardo Duhalde said he intended to replace the existing presidential system with a parliamentary democracy.

The president said the changes would lead to an efficient and streamlined administration which would be more accountable to the people.

His statement came amid continuing daily protests against the government's handling of the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

President Eduardo Duhalde
Duhalde wants to create a 'second republic'
Mr Duhalde said he planned to transform the political system into a second republic.

The BBC's Peter Greste in Buenos Aires says the president's speech is his blueprint to rebuild Argentina's political system from the ground up.

Gone are the presidency that has been in place for almost 150 years, the electoral system that helped enshrine two widely discredited and despised political parties, and the system of funding that has allowed corruption to flourish.

In its place Mr Duhalde wants a European-style parliamentary democracy, fewer elected representatives and new rules to run elections.

The president said the savings would be spent on desperately needed social programmes to restart the stalled economy

Discontent

The BBC's correspondent says most Argentines blame the political system and politicians for leading them into turmoil and most people will be pleased political reform is under way.

Impatience has led to a wave of demonstrations. On Friday, hundreds of Argentines took to the streets of downtown Buenos Aires, banging pots and calling for the government to lift remaining restrictions on bank accounts.

The unpopular measures were imposed in December last year by the previous government of Fernando de la Rua after $2bn was withdrawn on one day.

Rescue plan

The president's announcement is the latest in a series of measures to tackle the economic turmoil.

Protester bangs a bottle against a truck
There have been daily anti-government protests

The government is to fully float the peso on Monday after a week-long closure of Argentina's banks and currency dealers

It was partially decoupled from the dollar last month after the two currencies had been pegged at one-to-one for 11 years.

Economy Minister Remes Lenicov has also announced spending cuts designed to reduce the budget deficit, and the removal of curbs on some bank accounts.

On Wednesday, the president reached agreement with provincial governors to cut state spending by 1bn pesos ($500m) in an effort to balance the country's books and release up to $20bn in international aid.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Peter Greste
"More protesters filled the streets"
See also:

08 Feb 02 | Business
Argentina to resume IMF talks
06 Feb 02 | Business
Argentina halts currency trading
04 Feb 02 | Business
Argentina unveils crisis package
30 Jan 02 | Business
IMF tells Argentina to cut spending
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