Argentine first lady bashes IMF in campaign ad

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BUENOS AIRES, Oct 18 (Reuters) Argentine first lady and leading presidential candidate Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has taken a swipe at the International Monetary Fund in a campaign advertisement days before Argentina's election.

The television commercial shows children answering incorrectly when apparently asked if they knew what the IMF was. A voice-over then follows saying, ''Thanks to us, your children ... have no idea of what the IMF is.'' The government of President Nestor Kirchner last year prepaid 9.5 billion dollars owed to the IMF, a step he said would free Argentina from the fund's influence over its economic policy.

Kirchner blames the fund's policies for triggering Argentina's 2001-02 economic crisis, when the country defaulted on its debt and devalued the peso currency.

The commercial, which is also featured on Fernandez's Web site, www.cristina.com.ar, marked renewed criticism of the Washington-based lender by Argentine authorities in a country where the fund is widely unpopular.

According to polls, Fernandez is the overwhelming favorite to succeed her husband in the Oct. 28 presidential vote.

REUTERS RSA RAI2110

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