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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 May, 2003, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Press warns of pitfalls ahead
Nestor Kirchner
A difficult road ahead for Argentina's new leader

As Nestor Kirchner becomes president of Argentina, leading newspapers wish him well but warn of the many pitfalls which could derail him from making the country economically sound and politically stable.

Plans to cut the military high command and curtail the power of the intelligence service have already set alarm bells ringing, proposals to get the economy back on track have come in for criticism and worries are expressed over relations with hemispheric heavyweights like the USA and Brazil.

The front page of the popular Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12 carries a large picture of a waving Mr Kirchner under the headline "A new broom".

Sleepless nights of a man about to become president

"Kirchner becomes president with a demonstration of strength," it says, referring to the decision to retire 27 army generals, 13 admirals, and 12 air force brigadiers in what will be the biggest upheaval in the country's armed forces in recent times.

Military rumbles

In a country which suffered a series of military dictatorships in the last 30 years, the high command were less than happy, reports La Nacion.

Writing in the daily, one analyst calls it a "decision which lacks logic" and another commentator describes it as "a purge unnecessary at the present time".

Mr Kirchner's proposals to reform the political system and clean up the intelligence service are a source of concern for the country's top circulation daily, Clarin.

In a piece headlined "Sleepless nights of a man about to become president", Clarin notes that the newcomer is hoping to "effect a root and branch clean-up of the intelligence service" which had allegedly intervened on rival Carlos Menem's behalf before he withdrew from the presidential run-off.

The daily feels that tentacles of the service are spread so thoroughly throughout the body politic that he will have his work cut out.

An editorial in Clarin warns Mr Kirchner he will have to face a series of problems which "don't stem from the recent past but form a whole baggage of frustrations which afflict the people".

Hopes of renewal

It points to a growth in corruption over the past 20 years, scandals involving senior politicians, curtailment of press and media freedoms and economic mismanagement.

Maximize the neo-Keynesian strategy
Commentator in La Nacion

"Following the worst crisis in history, there is a national awareness of the necessity to open a new chapter in national life based on a culture of work, rationality and responsibility," says Clarin.

Both Clarin and La Nacion point to Mr Kirchner's plans to expand the former government's public works programme as a vehicle for economic success.

Writing in La Nacion, Mariano Grondona calls for the new president to "maximize the neo-Keynesian strategy".

Mr Grondona argues that just like Keynes did before him, Mr Kirchner represents "a new generation" of leaders in their 50s with energy and imagination. He expresses the hope they will herald "the age of renewal".

The English-language Buenos Aires Herald frets over the country's relations with its dominant neighbour Brazil as well as hemispheric heavyweight the United States.

Place in the world

Noting that Washington sent a lesser official to the swearing in, it calls on Mr Kirchner to "think very hard about his country's place in the world".

The fascination with Brazil shown by most of the Kirchner administration stems from what might be called 'Lula-mania'
Buenos Aires Herald

"Let us hope that his future priorities do not reflect the glaring contrast in the level of representation of Cuba and the United States - world-famous Fidel Castro versus the US Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martínez."

The Herald also perceives a problem with Argentina's attitude towards Brazil, which it terms "Lula-mania", after the Brazilian President Lula Inacio da Silva.

"The fascination with Brazil shown by most of the Kirchner administration stems from what might be called 'Lula-mania' without too much understanding of exactly what the new Brazilian president has done in his first 20 weeks in office to restore confidence in his country around the world."

"Since Kirchner otherwise prides himself on continuity with the Eduardo Duhalde administration, he might like to consider continuity here too instead of being stampeded into an obsession with Lula's Brazil."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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