BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -- Argentine President Carlos Menem on
Monday won a court victory giving him control of his ruling Peronist Party
until 2002 after he steps down ahead of a presidential vote in 1999 which he
cannot contest, local news agencies reported on Monday.
Menem is banned by the constitution from what would be a third
consecutive presidential term. He has said he wishes to remain Peronist
leader before running for president in 2003.
His Peronist leadership rival, and likely party election candidate for
race, Buenos Aires province Gov. Eduardo Duhalde, had sought a court
ruling to void a party Congress decision to extend Menem's term as party
head by four years.
Judge Maria Servini de Cubria ruled the extension was valid and ended an
injunction which had prevented a final decision on the leadership of
Argentina's largest political party.
Duhalde, formerly Menem's vice-president, is seeking to wrest direction
the party from the 68-year old Menem. Polls predicting the centre-left
opposition Alliance is headed for victory in 1999 suggest the two rivals
could be competing only for the right to be leader of the opposition.
Menem's term as Peronist party chief was due to end in 2000 but his
supporters at the Congress managed to get a party election rescheduled for
this October, to ensure he could compete before the expiry of his
presidential term at the end of 1999.
The party election originally was suspended after Servini de Cubria granted
Duhalde an injunction in August. Another court then backed Menem
supporters' claim that he had won the the party election, even though it was
never actually held.
Menem was the only candidate to present himself but he was forced to call
off a formal swearing-in ceremony on November 27 after Servini de Cubria
had said the injunction still applied.
Menem's supporters waged a campaign to allow Menem a run at the
presidency again next year but eventually admitted it would be too difficult to
change the country's constitution.
Copyright 1998 Reuters.