Argentinian president leaves office, wife elected first female president

>BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – Cristina Fernandez was sworn in Monday as Argentina’s first elected female president, completing a rare husband-wife transfer of power that the nation hopes will ensure continued recovery from an economic meltdown.

Fernandez, whose husband Nestor Kirchner is credited with leading Argentina out of its 2001-2002 economic meltdown, vowed to increase his center-left economic programs, create jobs and reduce high poverty levels.

During her hour-long inaugural speech, Fernandez’s voice rose in anger as she demanded faster progress from dozens of slow-moving court investigations of human rights abuses of the country’s 1976-83 dictatorship.

“I expect that in the four years of my term, trials that have been delayed more than 30 years will be concluded. We must try and punish those who were responsible for the greatest genocide” in modern Argentine history, Fernandez, 54, told a packed Congress after taking up the blue-and-white sash from Kirchner, who gingerly adjusted it on her shoulders.

Nearly 13,000 people are officially listed as missing or dead under a “dirty war” crackdown on dissent by past military governments. Activists estimate nearly double that number died.

Fernandez, who has been compared to Hillary Clinton, embarks on a four-year term whose main challenge will be to prolong an economic recovery that has seen annual growth rates above 8 percent in recent years.