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Duhalde Sworn In As New Argentine President

BUENOS AIRES (voa) – An influential senator from the populist Peronist Party, Eduardo Duhalde, has been formally sworn in as Argentina’s new president.

Mr. Duhalde put the presidential sash on during a ceremony at the presidential palace. Several hundred supporters of the new president appeared in the Plaza de Mayo, in front of the palace.

The lawmaker, who is a former vice-president and provincial governor, was chosen by Congress as the country’s new chief executive late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, currency markets remain closed in Argentina amid concerns about a devaluation fueled by the new leader’s attack on the country’s free-market economic model, which pegs the peso to the U.S. dollar.

In his acceptance speech Tuesday, Mr. Duhalde said he would form a government of national unity that would lay the foundation for a new economic model that will revive production and create new jobs.

Argentina is in its fourth year of recession and is struggling with an 18 percent unemployment rate. It recently announced the suspension of payments on its $132 billion public debt.

Mr. Duhalde is to serve until December 2003, completing the term of former president Fernando de la Rua, who resigned in December amid street riots that left 27 people dead.

Argentina’s Congress, which is controlled by the Peronist Party, elected Mr. Duhalde by a vote of 262 to 21.

Interim Peronist President Adolfo Rodriguez Saa resigned on December 30 after one week in office. He claimed his party did not give him enough support for needed economic measures.

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