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Argentina's former president Kirchner attempts political comeback

Ex-Argentine president Cristina Kirchner is to run for the senate. But the decision is likely to split the left-wing opposition's chances against President Mauricio Macri’s coalition.

Cristina Kirchner announced on Saturday she will make a senate run as the ex-Argentine president tries to make a political comeback despite facing corruption charges.

The former left-wing president, who ruled from 2007 to 2015, will run for a senate seat in Buenos Aires province in October's mid-term elections after announcing earlier this week the formation of a new political party, Citizen's Unity, local media reported.

Since leaving office, Kirchner has been one of the sharpest critics of conservative President Mauricio Macri's economic policies and budget cuts. 

The new party aims to fight "the reinstatement of the neo-liberal model."

Kirchner facing trial

Kirchner still faces trial for alleged financial mismanagement as president and is being investigated on three separate corruption charges. She denies the accusations and says they are politically motivated.

A senate seat would give her immunity from prosecution.

By entering the race, Kirchner is also further fracturing the Peronist opposition and giving Macri's "Cambiamos" coalition a potential boost.

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Within the Peronist camp, Kirchner will go up against her former interior minister, Florencio Randazzo, who heads the traditional Peronist Justicialist Party.

Another split in the Peronists will see Sergio Massa, head of the Renewal Front, also run for the senate in Buenos Aires.

A strong performance by Macri's coalition in the senate race would allow the president more room to pursue economic reforms that he says are needed to jump-start the economy.  His detractors, including Kirchner, say they are hurting the poor as the country struggles with double-digit inflation, budget cuts and high unemployment. 

The mid-term election is viewed as a bellwether for the presidential election in 2019.

cw/jm (AFP, dpa)

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