Argentine Navy chief quits

Adm. Carlos Alberto Paz resigned as commander of the Argentine Navy amid a dispute over Ghana`s seizure of the force`s training vessel.

Buenos Aires: Adm. Carlos Alberto Paz Monday resigned as commander of the Argentine Navy amid a dispute over Ghana`s seizure of the force`s training vessel at the behest of a US-based investment fund.

President Cristina Fernandez named Vice Adm. Daniel Alberto Martin to replace Paz, government spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said.

Martin, 57, is a veteran of the 1982 Falklands War, which Argentina lost to Britain.

Paz`s resignation came after the defence ministry relieved two senior navy officers for their actions in establishing the sailing route of the frigate Libertad, which was seized by Ghana in keeping with a debt payment demand by NML Capital Ltd., which holds defaulted Argentine bonds.

The officers were removed from their posts and administrative proceedings were initiated to "establish responsibilities with regard to the decision for the frigate ARA Libertad to make a stop at the port of Tema, Republic of Ghana", said the defence ministry in a communique.

One of the officers, Luis Maria Gonzalez Day, said Sunday that the Libertad`s stop in Ghana was an "interministerial decision" and that the setting of the vessel`s route was done in accord with a "cooperative process" among several government departments.

The Libertad has remained impounded in the Ghanaian port of Tema since Oct 2 as a result of a complaint by NML Capital, which is demanding that Argentina pay up on sovereign bonds that defaulted in late 2001 amid an economic and financial meltdown.

Argentina subsequently restructured $95 billion in defaulted bonds, convincing creditors to accept roughly 30 cents on the dollar.

NML is among a group of US bondholders who demand full repayment and have attempted to seize a range of Argentine assets, including the presidential aircraft.

The Argentine government refers to NML as a "vulture fund" and calls the sequestering of the Libertad an attempt at "extortion".


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