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Argentina's former leader Fernandez announces vice presidential bid

EITAN ABRAMOVICH / AFP | Former Argentine president (2007-2015) and current senator Cristina Kirchner, gestures during the First World Critical Thinking Forum in Buenos Aires, on November 19, 2018.

Argentina's former President Cristina Fernández announced on Saturday her candidacy for vice president in October's general elections, a surprising move that now puts a more moderate challenger at the helm of the presidential ticket.

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In a video posted on Twitter on Saturday, Fernandez said that Alberto Fernández, who leads the left-leaning Unidad Ciudadana political party, will run for the presidency against conservative President Mauricio Macri.

"I have asked Alberto Fernández to head the formula that we will integrate together, he as a presidential candidate and I as a vice presidential candidate," Fernández said. "I am convinced that this formula that we are proposing is the one that best expresses what Argentina needs at this moment to summon the broadest social and political and economic sectors."

Alberto Fernández served as chief of staff from 2003 to 2007 for Fernández's predecessor and late husband, Néstor Kirchner. He remained in the position during a portion of Fernández's term as president from 2007 to 2015, but left the post after a steep economic crisis took hold.

Some polls have suggested Fernández could defeat Macri in a second round of voting, but it is unclear how those prospects will change now that Fernández has thrown her hat in the ring as a vice presidential candidate.

While many had assumed she would run for the top post, Fernández's decision to pursue the position of second-in-command reflects possible doubts over whether she was best positioned to challenge Macri in light of a series of looming corruption trials.

Argentina's Supreme Court has said the first corruption trial against Fernández could start as early as next week, despite a judicial order that her opponents feared could delay the trial into the presidential campaign season or beyond.

Fernández has been accused of taking bribes in exchange for public work contracts, but denies wrongdoing and says lower courts did not allow her to present more witnesses.

In separate cases, she faces several formal investigations into allegations of bribery, money laundering and criminal association during her administration and that of Kirchner.

Still, many voters are frustrated by an inflation rate that reached 47.6% last year, the highest since 1991, and a decision by Macri's government to slash subsidies on utilities and public transportation.

In April, the Argentine peso hit a record low due to investors' growing distrust of the conservative president's economic management.

Macri says he underestimated the macroeconomic imbalances inherited from his populist predecessor, center-left Fernández.

Fernández, 66, was known for her interventionist and populist policies while in office. Some credit her for leading the country out of an economic crisis, while others blame her for creating its current woes.

(AP)

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