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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) _ Argentina's Congress named Eduardo Duhalde, an old-style populist from the Peronist party, to serve as the fifth president in two weeks.

Overwhelmingly confirmed as head of state, Duhalde will face the gargantuan task of rescuing the country from its most serious political and economic crisis since democracy was restored two decades ago.

The vote was 262 in favor with only 21 against and 18 abstentions.

Duhalde, 60, who hails from the left wing of the Peronist party, was elected after five hours of debate by Congress. He is to complete the unfinished term of Fernando De la Rua, who left power Dec. 21 amid street riots.

Duhalde is a former two-term governor of Buenos Aires province who also served as Argentina's vice president in the early 90s.

``Viva Argentina! Viva Peron!'' hundreds of supporters chanted outside Congress as Duhalde rose to power.

Despite the cheers, it was a tense day in Argentina as riot police tightly guarded Congress, erecting tall iron fences around the ornate rotunda in downtown Buenos Aires.

In a brief outburst of violence hours earlier, hundreds of rival political demonstrators battled each other with slingshots, stones and paving blocks.

Although the violence was swiftly quelled by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the street brawling was a clear sign of Argentines' simmering anger at their politicians, whom they blame for a crippling recession of nearly four years

Waving red flags, student supporters of more extreme left-wing groups battled with the Peronist demonstrators. At least two injuries were reported.

Guarding against a return to the widespread street violence that has shaken Argentina in recent weeks, hundreds of police also stood guard outside the Plaza de Mayo, a major city square surrounded by government's central offices.