Argentina adrift in chaos after President quits

 

Argentine interim President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa has resigned, just seven days after taking office.

Violent street protests and a battle within the ruling Peronist Party led Mr Adolfo Rodriguez Saa to suddenly quit as interim president Sunday, depressed Argentina found itself adrift with no consensus over how to end the chaos.

Mr Eduardo Camano, head of the lower house of Congress, found himself with the hot potato of Argentina's provisional presidency after the Senate chief also resigned. But Mr Camano can only head the country for 48 hours before Congress must name a new interim president, according to the Constitution.

One powerful Peronist governor called for an emergency "government of national salvation," while another urged elections for a new president "as soon as possible."

But the non-stop political tumult raised questions about whether Argentina is governable at all as the crumbling middle class grows increasingly restless in its protests of widespread corruption and a ruthless recession now in its fourth year.

Mr Rodriguez Saa, appointed just a week ago by Congress to lead until elections set for March 3, quit after stomping on the toes of Peronist Party barons who accused him of trying to delay or cancel the vote to cling to power longer.

His fate was also sealed by thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets Friday night to protest strict curbs on bank deposits and his appointment of a cabinet many believed was rife with corruption.

The protests turned ugly, leaving a dozen police injured after clashes in front of the presidential palace. Looters also broke down the doors of Congress, set small fires and pushed couches and statues down its front steps.

"I'm not going to be the president who continues the old Argentina," Mr Rodriguez Saa said in a televised address to the nation yesterday. "This selfish, petty attitude leaves me no alternative but to present my resignation."