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Argentina government rocked as hard-left ministers resign

09/15/2021 | 02:05pm EDT

(Adds government comment on other resignations)

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Argentina's interior minister, Eduardo de Pedro, offered his resignation on Wednesday along with several other hard-left officials, a signal of a major rift within the government after a bruising election loss in midterm primaries on Sunday.

De Pedro was one of the top officials allied with the more radical "Kirchnerist" wing of the center-left government of Alberto Fernández, who now faces a battle to win back moderate voters ahead of a midterm ballot in November.

In a letter circulated by the ministry, de Pedro said he was offering his resignation to President Fernandez to help the government move forward toward the full midterm ballot in November and regain voter support.

"Listening to your words on Sunday night where you raised the need to interpret the verdict expressed by the Argentine people, I have considered the best way to help this task is by putting my resignation at your disposal," he wrote.

Spokesmen for the government and ruling party said that the minister of culture Tristán Bauer, the minister of environment Juan Cabandié and the minister of science and technology Roberto Salvarezza had all also tendered their resignations.

All three are aligned with the more militant wing of the ruling coalition and are allies of Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a divisive but hugely powerful figure who was a two-term president from 2007-2015.

The resignations of de Pedro and the other ministers have yet to be formally accepted by Fernández.

The ruling Front for All party, which has taken a hit to its popularity during the pandemic, was badly beaten on Sunday in the open primary vote, which is seen as a reliable indicator of how the midterm ballot will go later in the year.

(Reporting by Walter Bianchi and Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Marguerita Choy)

© Reuters 2021
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