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Argentina's Chief Justice Quits Amid Reform Push

June 28, 2003|From Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina's top Supreme Court justice resigned Friday after weeks of pressure by President Nestor Kirchner to overhaul the highly unpopular court, authorities said.

Julio Nazareno submitted his resignation unexpectedly, capping a three-week drama that pitted the new president against the chief justice.

Kirchner, who took office May 25, had accused the court of political bias in rulings aimed at staving off a congressional investigation into accusations of malfeasance among the nine-member tribunal.

A court spokesman, who asked to remain unidentified, said Nazareno cited personal reasons in stepping down. Nazareno had no immediate comment.

With Nazareno off the court, Kirchner racked up a key political victory in his first weeks on the job. During that time, he has also shaken up the military high command and the federal police, to the applause of many.

A 53-year-old former provincial governor from the south, Kirchner took office with the lowest mandate of any elected Argentine president in modern history. But he enjoys approval ratings approaching 70% in some surveys.

For weeks, Nazareno said the president was "undermining" the country's institutions. He also had charged that Kirchner "could not constantly overhaul the leaders of the powers of the state."

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