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Argentina's president to undergo surgery

| Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, 9:24 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina's president will undergo surgery on Tuesday to remove blood between her brain and skull that has been causing new and worrying symptoms, her physicians said.

The president's doctors said they had ordered President Cristina Fernandez on Saturday to rest for a month because they discovered the subdural hematoma — a clot inside her skull pressuring her brain and causing headaches. In some patients, such blood clots reabsorb by themselves over time.

But the situation became more urgent after Fernandez felt a weakness and numbness in her upper left arm Sunday evening, according to doctors at the Fundacion Favaloro, one of Argentina's top cardiology hospitals.

“Facing these symptoms, the team decided on surgical intervention,” the hospital's doctors said in a statement on Monday.

The surgery involves drilling small holes through the skull to remove old blood.

In a three-paragraph statement released late Saturday that raised more questions than answers, her doctors attributed the injury to a still unexplained blow to her head she suffered Aug. 12. That would have been the day when a primary vote showed a significant drop in support for ruling party candidates, despite her intensive campaigning.

As the 60-year-old leader returned to the hospital for pre-surgical exams, Vice President Amado Boudou made no mention of the planned operation. He said in a speech that top officials would run the country as a team “while she gets the rest she deserves.”

“What Cristina wants is for us to maintain the administration, and to carry on this project that (her late husband and predecessor as president) Nestor Kirchner began and that Cristina has continued,” Boudou said.

What he didn't say, and no other official ventured to guess, was whether Fernandez would formally delegate her executive powers during the surgery, or while she recovered. Boudou is under investigation for alleged corruption and illegal enrichment and has one of the worst images among Argentine politicians.

By late afternoon, there was no official announcement about a transfer of power even though some Argentine media reported that after his speech, Boudou signed a document formally assuming control of the government.

Argentina's constitution provides for, but does not require, a formal transfer of power in case of health problems, said Daniel Sabsay, a constitutional lawyer.

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