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Argentina's President Reschedules Elections - 2002-07-03

Argentina's President Eduardo Duhalde will move up Argentina's presidential elections six months ahead of the date originally scheduled. The Predsident's decision has surprised both his friends and foes.

Under increasing pressure from political opponents and protesters, whose mass demonstrations keep attracting larger crowds, President Eduardo Duhalde went on national TV Tuesday night calling for early presidential elections in March instead of September next year.

"We need a government supported by a popular vote," Mr. Duhalde said, "one that will be capable of developing long-term economic reform."

The decision to speed up elections comes as the International Monetary Fund and Argentina have failed to negotiate an emergency aid package to the country after months of talks.

It also comes as thousands of Argentine protesters are calling for Mr. Duhalde's resignation, after two anti-government demonstrators were killed last week in a clash with police.

Mr. Duhalde was appointed president by Argentina's congress in January, the fifth leader in two weeks,after bloody riots ousted president Fernando de la Rua.

In recent weeks, Mr. Duhaldes popularity rating has fallen to eight percent, as Argentines grow increasingly frustrated with his governments inability to rescue the country from its worst economic crisis ever.