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ARGENTINA | 06-05-2019 15:51

Government to invite Fernández de Kirchner, CGT, Church to 'roundtable' dialogue

Interior Minister Rogelio Frigerio says Macri administration "will not exclude anyone" from its planned upcoming talks on stability.

The Government has confirmed that it intends to invite Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to its planned 'roundtable' dialogue event, with Interior Minister Rogerio Frigerio saying the Mauricio Macri administration will not "exclude anyone."

Last week, the government said it would call a meeting with representatives from key political parties, unions and societal groups in order to seek a basic consensus ahead of October's general election. The move sparked a lot of attention, with only a few weeks to go before lists for the PASO primaries have to be confirmed.

Speaking to journalist Luis Novaresio on Radio La Red, Frigerio said Cambiemos were "going to exclude anyone," saying he did not "rule out anything."

He added: "Cristina [Fernández de] Kirchner will be called this week to join the roundtable dialogue."

This morning, both the Clarín and La Nación dailies said that in addition to the former president, governors, business figures, Church leaders and the leadership of the influential CGT umbrella union group would also be invited to attend. Invites will also be extended to political leaders Sergio Massa, Roberto Lavagna, Juan Manuel Urtubey, Miguel Angel Pichetto and Daniel Scioli.

According to Clarín, the government intends to include Argentina's 23 governors, Buenos Aires City Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Laretta, the heads of the Catholic and evangelical churches and the leaders of various entities, including CAME, the ABA (Association of Argentine Banks), the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange and SRA, UIA and CAC lobbies.

Invitations will be sent out formally, in the shape of a letter from President Mauricio Macri, later today, the newspapers reported. It will be drafted by Cabinet Chief Marcos Peña.

An approach would be made "peer-to-peer ... by letter," Frigerio confirmed to Novaresio. 

"The call for this search for basic consensus does not have to exclude anyone and, of course, Cristina [Fernández de] Kirchner represents an important part of the electorate and should be part of this roundtable," added Frigerio.

'Priority'

The interior minister said the issue was "a priority" for President Macri, who Frigerio said was eager to secure an agreement on issues ahead of October's election.

Last week, Cambiemos proposed a programme of 10 basic points, which received different responses from the opposition. The government is said to be open to "some changes," acknowledging that leaders "are being called to dialogue to discuss and reach a consensus."

In response to last week's news, Lavagna – who has not officially confirmed he will run for president – instead presented his own list of 10 proposals, proposing policies he believes all sides should stick to.

Renewal Front leader Sergio Massa, who will run for the Casa Rosada, dismissed the government's list, saying "the country is going through a very serious crisis because of Macri's failure."

The president "a wrong path and, despite the undeniable reality, he ignores those who try to help him and insists on the same recipe," Massa added.

Opposition Justicialist Party politician and national lawmaker Agustín Rossi – who served as defence minister under Fernández de Kirchner's presidency – was quick to criticise the government's proposal too, saying that "if the government calls Cristina to sign this agreement as it is, for sure she will not sign it."

"The agreement proposed by the government is the work route of the IMF [International Monetary Fund]," he added.

Should it come to pass, any potential meeting that brings ex-head of state Fernández de Kirchner and President Macri together would be keenly watched by many Argentines.

The two have not spoken since 2015, after arguing during a telephone call about the details of the handover between their two respective governments, specifically Macri's inauguration ceremony. The call reportedly ended with Fernández de Kirchner refusing to adhere to Macri's terms to pass over the sceptre and presidential sash.

The Cambiemos leader wanted to take oath of office at Congress, then travel to the Casa Rosada to receive the items from the former president. Fernández de Kirchner, however, wanted the whole ceremony to take place in Congress, in line with the Constitution and tradition established by her and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner, who preceded her as head of state.

Fernández de Kirchner referenced the telephone conversation in her new book, Sinceramente, saying Macri had "screamed and blamed me for wanting to ruin the assumption." She admitted she hung up the phone, saying she didn't have to "endure the abuse."

- TIMES/PERFIL

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