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Menem Pulls Out of Presidential Race - 2003-05-15

The presidential race in Argentina has been decided. One of the countries' most well known politicians has abandoned his candidacy, making way for a political unknown to take office. The comeback is over. Former Argentina's president Carlos Menem has dropped out of the presidential race just four days before the election.

The controversial and charismatic 72-year-old former president was expected to suffer a decisive defeat this Sunday at the hands of opponent Nestor Kirchner. Mr. Kirchner now wins the presidency by default and will take over the office from current President Eduardo Duhalde on May 25.

Mr. Menem kept his opponents and the media guessing for two days after a series of cancelled campaign spots fueled speculation of his resignation. The move is expected to mark the end of Mr. Menem's political career, although he did tell reporters Wednesday that he plans to get back to work soon.

The 53-year-old Mr. Kirchner is the longtime governor of the oil-rich Patagonian province of Santa Cruz and is expected to maintain many of the same economic policies put into place by the current president. This includes keeping the economic team credited with inching the country forward in the midst of its worst economic crisis in history.