Argentina is on the brink of anarchy, says President

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The Independent US

Demonstrators took to the streets again in Argentina after the near-bankrupt country's President, Eduardo Duhalde, said he would keep emergency financial controls in place, defying a supreme court ruling that they were unconstitutional.

More than 1,000 people gathered outside the government palace in Buenos Aires early yesterday, clanging pots and pans and chanting "Give us our money", after Mr Duhalde went on television to say restrictions on bank withdrawals would remain. "I know many people must be pleased today, thinking they can go to the banks, and they are going to give them their money," he said. "I tell you, don't deceive yourselves." He said Argentina was now "on the brink of anarchy".

Demonstrations broke out in several other large cities, but although tyres were set alight in the capital, the protests ended peacefully. Tomorrow and Tuesday have been declared a bank holiday – an action likely to outrage people who have queued for hours to withdraw savings that have halved since the beginning of December.

Even when the banks are open, most account-holders can withdraw no more than $800 (£500), with the rest frozen until next year. But the authorities fear that if the court ruling is allowed to stand, there would be an immediate and massive run on the banks, causing nearly all of them to collapse. The majority are foreign-owned, with Britain's HSBC and Lloyds TSB holding large stakes.