Fernandez still in charge of Argentina despite hematoma: source

BUENOS AIRES Mon Oct 7, 2013 9:42am EDT

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (L) walks ahead of Lower House candidate Martin Insaurralde in Buenos Aires in this handout taken by the Argentine Presidency September 20, 2013. REUTERS/Argentine Presidency/Handout via Reuters

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (L) walks ahead of Lower House candidate Martin Insaurralde in Buenos Aires in this handout taken by the Argentine Presidency September 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Argentine Presidency/Handout via Reuters

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - President Cristina Fernandez will stay in charge of Argentina's government even though she has been ordered by her doctors to take a month of rest due to a subdural hematoma, or blood on the brain, a government source said.

"Rest does not mean disconnection," said the source, who spoke with Reuters early on Monday and asked not to be named.

The hematoma will keep the combative 60-year-old leader out of action three weeks ahead of October 27 mid-term congressional elections that will determine how much legislative clout she enjoys during her final two years in office.

Vice President Amado Boudou cut short a planned visit to Brazil and France to return to Argentina during the weekend and take over as president, but in name only, according to the source, who said Fernandez remained in control.

"Trips on airplanes, speeches and campaign events are not recommended due to the hematoma but the she will stay on top of things from home," said the source, who has direct knowledge of the situation.

The president's condition may have come from hitting her head during a fall she took in August, although she was cleared by her doctors at the time, a presidential spokesman said.

Fernandez, known for micro-managing her Cabinet, may find it hard to keep a low profile during such a politically sensitive time for Latin America's third biggest economy.

Her government also is at the apex of a battle in the U.S. courts over Argentina's defaulted debt, a case she likes to talk about publicly.

Recent polls have indicated the government could lose control of Congress in the mid-term vote, an outcome that would deprive Fernandez of the chance of introducing a constitutional reform that would allow her to run for a third term in 2015.

Re-elected to a second term in 2011 on promises of increasing the government's role in the economy, Fernandez has said she is not thinking about a third term. But talk persists that her supporters want the constitution amended to let her run again.

Fernandez was first elected in 2007 as Argentina was recovering from its catastrophic 2002 debt default.

Her protectionist trade policies, currency controls and nationalization of the country's main airline, oil company and private pension system have confirmed Argentina as an outcast of the international markets.

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Bill Trott)

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