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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 23:57 GMT
New president's address to Congress
Eduardo Duhalde accepted his nomination as Argentine president before a joint session of Congress in Buenos Aires with a call for Argentines to make sacrifices.
The following are excerpts from his address to parliament:
"Honourable Legislative Assembly, dear people of Argentina: This Legislative Assembly has appointed me to hold the office of President of the Republic until 10 December 2003.
I am taking the oath of office with the firm resolve of keeping my word in circumstances which call for dedication and sacrifice from all Argentines.
Saving the nation
As you all know, since President De la Rua's resignation, I have upheld that the responsibility of leading a transition government would be incompatible with any plan to run for president in 2003. Thus, I hereby commit myself to making a great personal effort to resolve the crisis and to hand the presidential sash over to a citizen elected by the Argentine people within two years.
Starting tomorrow, without delegating my responsibility in terms of restoring social peace and the tasks I have to fulfil, I will be working together with business, labour, and political forces, and NGOs as well in immediately drafting a national salvation programme.
To take part in this open dialogue process is tantamount to stating that we are prepared to look all Argentine men and women in the eye and to tell them that we are aware of their hardships and hopelessness, that we are determined to salvage the nation together, and to enable each member of our community to regain his dignity.
These are not hours for celebrations. Yet, these are hours of hope because we are witnessing an unprecedented experience in our political life; that is, the formation of a government of national unity built above political banners and partisan interests. This has been a major demand by our people...
We have shown profound moral and political ineptitude over changing a model of social exclusion that was progressively installed in our country in recent decades. My commitment today is to discontinue an obsolete model that has brought despair upon the large majority of our people, and to lay down the bases for a new model capable of jumpstarting production and the domestic market, of creating jobs, and of promoting a fairer distribution of wealth.
We need international understanding and cooperation. We had to suspend payments on our public debt interest because we are in no position to make them at this critical juncture that had sparked a strong social upheaval. The only way for us to face our domestic and international commitments is by pushing for economic growth that would ultimately bring about true human development...
[President Duhalde pledged to investigate reports that funds had been sent abroad illegally and bring those responsible to justice].
I would also like to tell you that the financial crisis in the public sector is unprecedented. Today, we do not have a single peso to meet our obligations in terms of salaries, annuities, and payment of half of the Christmas bonus.
The sharp drop in economic activity has resulted in a strong drop in revenues. This has also generated a perverse vicious cycle that has brought our country to the brink of disintegration and chaos... 15 million people are living below the poverty index in Argentina.
I believe this is not a time to assign blame, but a time to tell the truth. Argentina is bankrupt; Argentina is broke...
What nobody can tolerate is chaos and anarchy. I want to tell you that neither bullets nor bayonets will resolve the chaos and anarchy we have been experiencing, but rather serious, responsible efforts to address the problems that are affecting millions and millions of excluded people in the Republic of Argentina.
The social doctrine of the church will be both our guide and our goal. Its humanist, Christian principles will be the pillars on which our government actions will rest.
The administration we are inaugurating today seeks to accomplish only a few basic objectives: firstly, to rebuild political and institutional authority in Argentina; secondly, to guarantee peace in Argentina; and thirdly, to lay down the bases for change in the socioeconomic model...
Guaranteeing social peace means refusing to tread the path of a rich country full of poor people. It is not possible that 40 per cent of our people live under the poverty line. This means that 15 million fellow countrymen do not have access to a family basket and that, according to official data, last year alone 730,000 middle class Argentine citizens became poor because their income dropped or because they had lost their jobs.
Guaranteeing social peace immediately means maintaining the programme for the creation of one million jobs announced here a week ago by former president Rodriguez Saa. We need to implement this programme but must also revise it...
No to dependency
The task that lies ahead of us is difficult. But we must recreate the conditions for Argentina to once again attract productive investments...
I belong to a political movement that through President Juan Domingo Peron and Eva Peron established social justice in Argentina and hoisted the banners of economic independence and political sovereignty... What we must do is jointly strive to untie the knots of dependency, one by one...
I want my administration to be a mirror in which we can look at ourselves and not a mere piece of glass stained by suspicions, insensibility and cowardice...
We have come to put Argentina back on its feet and in peace. We all know that Argentina has a future. And because of this we must feel more Argentine than ever today... Do not doubt it, do not doubt at all: Argentina has a future.
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.
02 Jan 02 | Americas
Argentina's new president sworn in
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