Buenos Aires, Argentina – Mauricio Macri took office as Argentina’s new president on Thursday ending a 12-year-old left-wing period led by Nestor and Cristina Kirchner. The pathway to the ceremony was filled with controversy as the outgoing president refused to appear in person to hand over the power to her successor, claiming disagreement over protocol.

Mrs. Kirchner announced on Tuesday that she would not be attending because, according to her, the conditions were not right. She and her allies in Congress decided to miss the ceremony after a disagreement over protocol that ended up in a messy court battle. Incoming Senate speaker Federico Pinedo, the acting president since midnight, administrated the oath of office.

Mauricio Macri was sworn today as Argentina’s president, without the present of Cristina Kirchner, the outgoing president. Credit: Mundotkm.com

Historically, the formal swearing-in ceremony takes place in the congressional palace, then the ceremony is followed by a second one at the presidential palace, where the transfer of power was symbolized by the outgoing president placing a band on his or her successor and handing over an ornate baton. But in recent years, the second ceremony was also held at the Congress. This is where the protocol disagreement originated. Mr. Macri preferred to revert to the traditional system, but Mrs. Kirchner wanted to stick to the more recent practice and have both ceremonies at the Congress.

“December 10th is not his birthday party,” Kirchner said on her website on Sunday defending the point harshly.

She also arguments as a reason not to have the two ceremonies separately, that she was in a hurry to Patagonia to see her sister-in-law, Alicia Kirchner, sworn in as a state governor there.

Kirchner refused to give Macri some company, but leaders from around the world gathered to watch Mr. Macri be sworn in. Among them were the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia plus the former king of Spain, Juan Carlos.

In his first speech as president of Argentina, Mr. Macri appealed for unity and a new political culture.

“Confrontation has taken us down the wrong paths. We have to remove conflict from the center of the stage and replace it with meeting points. If we Argentines dare to unite, we will be unstoppable,” Macri stated.

This was the first time an outgoing president refuses to hand over personally to their successor since democracy was restored in 1983.

Macri’s arrival to power brings new hope for Falklands. Kirchner’s eight years of controversial rule was characterized by threats of a second Falklands war. Now, Macri has made some statements promising to work on improving the relationships with the UK. His election has been carefully welcomed by both the UK and Falkland Islands governments who have said they are prepared to open friendly dialogue with him.

Source: NY Times