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Saturday, 21 October, 2000, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Spy chief quits in corruption scandal
President de la Rua
President de la Rua has been dogged by corruption
The head of the Argentinian intelligence agency, who is a key aide to President Fernando de la Rua, has been forced to resign as the latest victim of the country's corruption scandal.

The decision comes after questions were raised about his role in a vote-buying scandal.

Fernando de Santibanes resigned under pressure from the ruling Alliance coalition.

president with mr alvarez
Mr De La Rua has already lost his vice-president

A government auditor accused Mr Santibanes of hiding official cash from an investigation into bribes allegedly paid to the opposition Peronist Party to get them to pass a reform bill in April.

The resignation means the loss of the president's most trusted advisors but it will defuse tension within the Alliance.

It has been close to collapse as result of the scandal.

Anti-corruption

Mr De la Rua's promises to fight corruption helped win him the election last October after 10 scandal-riddled years under Peronist President Carlos Menem.

The bribes charges have not only weakened his government but spoiled his image as an honest reformer.

Frepaso leader Carlos Alvarez resigned as vice-president after the president failed to fire Mr De Santibanes and former Labour Minister Alberto Flamarique.

Alberto Flamarique, who denied links to bribes left the government soon after Mr Alvarez.

The former vice-president promises that Frepaso will not leave the Alliance.

But the vice-president's resignation has opened doubts over whether Mr De la Rua, who is head of the centrist Radical Party, will be able to continue pushing laws through Congress.

Mr De Santibanes is a wealthy private banker and personal friend of Mr De la Rua, whose free-market views are resented by many Alliance members.

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See also:

07 Oct 00 | Americas
Argentina's vice-president quits
03 Sep 00 | Monitoring
Argentine press eyes corruption scandal
14 May 00 | Americas
Deal ends Argentina protest
10 Dec 99 | Americas
Argentinian president sworn in
25 Oct 99 | Americas
Tough challenges for new president
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