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Vigil for Argentina's Fernández before cancer surgery

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Vigil for Argentina's Fernández before cancer surgery

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Dozens of supporters of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner have been holding a vigil outside the hospital where she is due to undergo an operation for cancer.

She is expected to remain in hospital in Pilar, some 60 kilometres from Buenos Aires, for at least 72 hours.

Doctors say there is no sign the disease has spread and the president has a high chance of recovery.

“We know it is nothing, nothing serious, but nonetheless we want the president to know that we are here with her, always,” said one supporter among the crowd who have set up tents and banners.

Fernández, who is 58, has the most common form of thyroid cancer. Her illness was revealed not long after she won a second term with a landslide victory in October’s election.

The death of her husband, the former president Nestor Kirchner, brought a wave of sympathy and Fernández remains highly popular.

During her first term she presided over strong economic growth and brought in policies to help the poor.

She is one of several Latin American leaders to be diagnosed with cancer.