By Eliana Raszewski
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) -A prominent Argentine lawmaker on Monday broke ranks with the country’s ruling party on Monday, rejecting a $44.5 billion agreement struck in principle with the International Monetary Fund late last week, a sign of cracks in the ruling coalition.
Militant leftist Maximo Kirchner said he was resigning from his role as the ruling party bloc leader in the lower chamber. Kirchner is also the son of two former Argentine presidents and historical leaders of the Peronist party: Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez, who is also the current vice president.
“This decision stems from not agreeing with the strategy, and, least of all, the results achieved in the negotiation with the International Monetary Fund,” he wrote in a public letter.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said on Friday the country had reached an agreement after years of negotiations with the IMF to restructure loan payments on debt initially taken on during the administration of Mauricio Macri in 2018.
“Tomorrow we will be deciding who replaces (Kirchner),” Fernandez said in an interview with local TV channel C5N. “I’m convinced this is the best agreement we could have reached with the (IMF).”
The agreement, which still has details to iron out and needs approval from Congress and the IMF board, was a major breakthrough, but has caused tensions within the Peronist coalition over economic targets included in the deal.
The agreement would require Argentina to reduce its deficit to zero by 2025 and make big cuts to steep energy subsidies the government makes to keep rates low.
“I will remain in the bloc to ease the tasks of the President and his entourage,” Kirchner wrote. “It’s best to step aside so that, (Fernandez) can pick somebody who believes in this program with the IMF.”
(Reporting by Eliana Raszewski; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Sandra Maler)