30 Oct 2010

Argentina lays popular former president to rest

7:01 pm on 30 October 2010

Former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner has been buried in his home town of Rio Gallegos.

Thousands of people waving flags joined the funeral procession led by his widow, current president Cristina Fernandez, before a private ceremony.

Earlier, the BBC reports, huge crowds lined the streets of Buenos Aires in pouring rain to salute his coffin.

Mr Kirchner's sudden death on Wednesday has provoked an outpouring of emotion in Argentina.

People queued for hours to pay tribute at the wake in the presidential palace in the capital.

His grieving widow was joined there by other South American leaders, including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Second presidential tilt had been expected

The former president, who ran the country from 2003 to 2007, became president as Argentina was emerging from a profound political and economic crisis and oversaw the country's return to relative stability and prosperity.

He was his wife's chief political strategist after she succeeded him, and was also secretary-general of the South American regional grouping Unasur.

Just as he stood aside for his wife in 2007, it was widely thought she would step back and allow him to run in the October 2011 election.

Mr Kirchner died from a heart attack at the age of 60.