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Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 17:12 GMT
Little sympathy for Argentine president
Argentine President Fernando de la Rua
President De la Rua in more buoyant times
Argentine commentators show little sympathy for President Fernando de la Rua as the country faces a major political and economic crisis.

A leading daily, La Nacion, described Mr De la Rua as "a tired man, operating at the limit of his strength".

He was facing "a political crisis of unpredictable consequences" and was presenting an "image of exhaustion" to the country.


Lopez Murphy is De la Rua's last chance - if he is denied that chance, default and devaluation stare Argentina in the face

Buenos Aires Herald

The crisis had developed like "a bad horror film, with thunder, lightning and a strong storm battering Buenos Aires", La Nacion said.

The English-language Buenos Aires Herald feared that the Mr De la Rua was an obstacle to the austerity package announced by the new Economy Minister Ricardo Lopez Murphy, which caused the break up of the coalition government.

"Lopez Murphy's biggest political problem is President Fernando de la Rua himself with his dogmatic insistence on 'consensus', with his reluctance to throw his weight behind the new minister (or indeed anybody or anything)."

Mr Lopez Murphy "deserves a chance, not least because he is De la Rua's last chance - if he is denied that chance, default and devaluation stare Argentina in the face".

Meltdown

For the country's largest circulation daily, Clarin, "the president is faced with the political base which brought him to power melting away beneath his feet".

"The president is surrounded by servile toadies," Clarin argues, suggesting he look for new allies to carry through the new measures.


The president is surrounded by servile toadies

Clarin

"What is under scrutiny is the leadership qualities of De la Rua, his ability to reconstruct his political infrastructure and channel the government and economy towards a successful future."

The financial daily Ambito Financiero says the president is heading for Chile next week with Mr Lopez Murphy to attend an international conference, and could meet his predecessor Carlos Menem there with a view to forming a new alliance.

There is also a suggestion he could meet former Finance Minister Domingo Cavallo and offer him the vacant interior minister portfolio.

Under the system Mr Cavallo introduced in Argentina, the country's peso is pegged to the dollar.

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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17 Mar 01 | Americas
Spending cuts spark Argentina crisis
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