Argentina: Bereaved President holds back tears in address to nation

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Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez came close to tears yesterday in her first televised comments since the death last week of her husband and closest adviser, Nestor Kirchner.

Former President Kirchner, 60, was Argentina's most powerful politician and a leading contender for next year's presidential election.

Ms Fernandez thanked supporters who queued for hours to catch a glimpse of Mr Kirchner's coffin during a two-day wake at the presidential palace. "I've read or heard people say that this is the most difficult moment of my life, but really... it's the most painful moment of my life," said Ms Fernandez, dressed in black

She made no mention of whether she would maintain the same interventionist economic policies that she and her husband, who governed from 2003 to 2007, have pursued but promised "to honour his government". Many Argentines credit Mr Kirchner with putting the country back on its feet after a deep crisis in 2001-02, but investors reviled his combative style that increased state control over the economy.

Argentine stock and bond prices surged after Mr Kirchner died of a heart attack at his country home in Patagonia, betting that his sudden departure increased the possibility of a more investor-friendly shift in Latin America's No 3 economy.