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Argentine surprise: Kirchner to seek vice presidency

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Buenos Aires (AFP)

With polls giving her strong support ahead of October elections, former Argentine president Cristina Kirchner made the surprise announcement Saturday that she will seek the vice presidency.

The announcement, made in a 12-minute video posted on social media, comes just three days before the leftist politician goes on trial on corruption charges.

Kirchner, 66, said in the video that she was asking former cabinet chief Alberto Fernandez to run at the top of the ticket as they seek to oust center-right president Mauricio Macri.

Fernandez, who was chief of staff to Kirchner's husband Nestor from 2003-2007 before holding the same position during her presidency, is considered a moderate. Nestor Kirchner died in 2010.

Primary elections are set for August 11.

In her video, Kirchner said Argentinians were living through "really dramatic" times, with more people than ever "sleeping on the streets, with problems at work or crying as they face electric or gas bills they cannot pay."

A series of corruption scandals shadowed Kirchner's 2007-2015 presidency but she has retained a strong base of support, notably among the poorest Argentinians.

That had helped make her a favorite in polling ahead of the October 27 presidential election, with some surveys putting her ahead of Macri.

Judge Claudio Bonadio had asked that Kirchner be held in pre-trial detention, but the parliamentary immunity she enjoys as a senator spared her.

It does not protect her from prosecution, however, and on Tuesday she faces a trial on charges of diverting public funds.

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