Argentina's Menem Says He'll Run Again for President

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem says he will again seek the presidency next year, according to an interview published Sunday.

The 76-year-old Menem, who governed from 1990 to 2000, told the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio that he is determined to run in Argentine elections set for October 2007.

"There are many opposition sectors, and little by little we will make progress on our efforts to strengthen them, especially when the time comes for again electing the president of the republic," he said.

He denounced current President Nestor Kirchner, his longtime rival in the Peronist Party, saying "Kirchner has developed the politics of hatred, and we know very well that one does not rule with hatred. That takes you nowhere."

CountryWatch: Argentina

He called Kirchner's government "a sort of dictatorship disguised in democracy, where key freedoms do not exist, such a freedom of the press."

Menem referred to Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez as "a sinister character" and said he was using massive oil income "to win the support from poor sectors in Venezuela. But poverty in Venezuela has grown in an impressive manner during his rule."

"He does everything as in a dictatorship. There's no freedom, nor democracy. And he's fighting everybody all the time," he added.

Menem dismissed reports of difficulties in his marriage with Cecilia Bolocco, a Chilean former Miss Universe and television personality.

"We are very happy, although the press media, not only in Argentina but also in other places, published anything they wanted," he said.

The Argentine press "has tried to destroy our marriage," he said.