Argentina’s Vice President and former leader Cristina Kirchner has vowed not to seek a return to the highest office as the country gears up for the October election.
The 70-year-old center-left politician, who led Argentina from 2007-15, was convicted of overseeing fraudulent public works contracts during her presidency — although she was spared prison by parliamentary immunity.
At an event south of the capital Buenos Aires on Thursday, Kirchner was greeted by a crowd of around 2,000 supporters calling for her to run again, chanting “Cristina president.”
“No, no, no, no president,” she told them.
While polls have identified Kirchner as the best-placed member of the ruling coalition, she has emphasized that she is “condemned, banned, disqualified” and already survived a failed assassination attempt in September.
Speculation has been rife over who will take up the mantle after President Alberto Fernandez’s surprise announcement this month that he would not stand for re-election.
Among the opposition, former president Mauricio Macri (2015-19) has also ruled himself out of the running.
Kirchner, who was also previously the first lady, had said in December that she was “not going to be a candidate for anything,” after the courts handed her a six-year prison sentence and barred her from public office for life, though as vice president she has temporary immunity.
She has described the charges mounted against her since leaving the presidency as “political persecution.”
Whoever wins the upcoming vote will have to confront an economic crisis that has seen inflation soar to almost 22 percent in the last three months and more than 100 percent over the last year.
Argentina’s peso has suffered constant depreciation against the US dollar, prompting Kirchner on Thursday to attack dollarization proponents such as Javier Milei, a liberal-libertarian candidate.
She also accused the International Monetary Fund of stoking Argentia’s inflation after it signed a deal with the previous right-wing government worth $44.5 billion.
Argentines will head to the polls on October 22, with a runoff slated for November 19 if needed.
Primaries for both the government camp and the opposition will take place on August 13.