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ARGENTINA | 18-05-2019 10:37

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner: I'll run for VP, not for the presidency

News confirmed by senator for Buenos Aires Province in a 12-minute video released on Twitter. Unidad Ciudadana leader says she will run for vice-presidency, accompanying her former chief-of-staff Alberto Fernández on the ticket.

Delivering a bombshell announcement that dramatically reshapes the race for the Casa Rosada and upsets conventional wisdom, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner confirmed this morning that she will not run for president in October.

In a 12-minute video released via social networks – delivered with the simply message: "In May week, reflections and decisions. Sincerely, Cristina" – the former president revealed she would instead run as a vice-presidential candidate, accompanying her longtime ally, Alberto Fernández, on the ticket.

Alberto Fernández previously served as Cabinet chief for the entirety of late president Néstor Kirchner's presidency. He continued in the post as Fernández de Kirchner's first term began, but departed after a few months.

"I have asked Alberto Fernández to head the formula that we will join together – he as a candidate for president and I as candidate for vice[-president] – to participate in the next primary, open, simultaneous and mandatory elections [PASO]," the senator for Buenos Aires Province confirmed.

"Alberto, whom I have known for more than 20 years, and for sure with whom we also had our differences. As certain as he was Nestor's Cabinet chief throughout his presidency and I saw him next with him deciding, organising, agreeing – and always seeking the broadest possible government," she said.

'The world is different'

Fernández de Kirchner had widely been expected to be President Mauricio Macri's main challenger for the presidency in October and political observers have been closely watching the ups and downs of the polls, which in turn have sparked instability in the markets. 

Argentina is currently gripped in recession, with the economy expected to contract this year. Inflation over the last 12 months has totalled 55.8 percent, with poverty on the rise.

The Unidad Ciudadana leader said in her video that a Fernández-Fernández de Kirchner ticket would "express what is needed in Argentina ... not only to win an election but to govern."

Criticising the government's economic policies, the ex-president said the nation and its people were "impoverished" and in a "dramatic" situation.

Fernández de Kirchner observed that "the world is different and the country is also different" today from when she was in office, adding that she has also changed personally. The senator said her and her running-mate would seek to offer "new answers to the new challenges."

"We have to understand once and for all that dissatisfaction and individual anger never changed the status quo. They never transformed reality," the Unidad Ciudadana leader said in her video. 

Fernández de Kirchner also indicated that she feels the opposition must come together in order to defeat Macri and Cambiemos, trailing a move to win over so-called 'rational' or 'third-way' Peronists who did not want to see her run.

"The coalition that governs must be much wider than the one that wins the elections," emphasised the former president, who stressed that "leaders must set aside ambitions." 

"It is not a matter of going back to the past or repeating what we did between 2003 and 2015," said Fernández de Kirchner in her video.

Defence – and criticism

Just a few days ago, Alberto Fernández took to the airwaves to defend the former president, amid criticism from non-Kirchnerite Peronists seeking to unify Peronism against Macri's Cambiemos coaltition.

He insisted his former boss was the "best candidate" for president.

Fernández – who has spent much of the past four years criticising the ex-president for alleged corruption and mismanagement as an ally of the opposition Renewal Front led by Sergio Massa – said on NetTV on Tuesday that it was "doubtful" Fernández de Kirchner would run for president "because of her personal situation."

"Florencia Kirchner is the hostage that Macri and the Judiciary are using to condition Cristina," he claimed in an extensive interview with the Corea del Centro programme on Net TV.

That was a reference to the ex-president's daughter, who faces allegations of money-laundering in an ongoing criminal investigation, alongside her mother and brother, Máximo Kirchner.

The former president faces a number of criminal trials and investigations into the alleged bribery and embezzlement of funds tied to public works contract issued under her presidency, as well as other alleged money-laundering allegations related to the Kirchner family's hotel businesses.

On Tuesday, the first trial against her will begin, with the Unidad Ciudadana leader set to take her place in the dock alongside figures such as ex-federal planning minister Julio de Vido and disgraced businessman Lázaro Báez.

Fernández de Kirchner denies all the allegations against her and claims she is the victim of a campaign of "political persecution" led by the Macri administration.

Speaking Tuesday, responding to questions about alleged corruption during the Kirchnerite presidencies, Alberto Fernández said "I'm not denying there was corruption." He added, however, that President Macri's government was "trying to incriminate Cristina."

- TIMES/AFP/AP

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