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Secrecy envelopes Argentine president’s recovery

A supporter Argentina's President CristinFernandez places flowers outside Favaloro Hospital Buenos Aires ArgentinWednesday Oct. 9 2013. The doctors who removed

A supporter of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez places flowers outside the Favaloro Hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. The doctors who removed a blood clot from the brain of Argentina's president on Tuesday say she's improving without complications. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The doctors who removed a blood clot from the brain of Argentina’s president said Wednesday that she’s improving “without complications.” But their terse report gave no information suggestion how long Argentines will be without the charismatic leader in charge.

Their three-sentence statement said only that the vital signs of Cristina Fernandez, 60, are normal, her spirits are “very good” and she would begin eating within the day.

Her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro appeared briefly before a crowd outside her hospital to announce the doctors’ report, adding only that she had slept well and “sends a big kiss to all the Argentines.” He left without taking questions.

Brain surgeons not involved in her surgery consulted by The Associated Press say there’s no reason to think that this surgery will have lasting complications for Fernandez, but they say the risks increase if she tries to go back to work too soon.

They also differ widely on how long patients generally need to recuperate. The Argentines consulted said 45 to 90 days is common, while U.S. experts said she could be back to work in a week.

A member of the surgical team finally spoke out on Wednesday. Dr. Pablo Rubino suggested Argentines have little need to worry, saying “once she’s completely recovered, there won’t be any problem; she’ll be able to do any sort of activity.”

But Rubino, the chief of vascular surgery at the Fundacion Favaloro, where Fernandez remained in intensive therapy, stressed that confidentiality vows prevent her doctors from saying how long she might need to recover.

“We can’t enter into details, but the information was absolutely faithful. The communications are absolutely accurate,” Rubino said. Pressed by a government radio host to say whether she could be out for a month, he said, “Some need less, some need more.”

Argentina faces looming challenges, and while Vice President Amado Boudou is formally in charge, Fernandez has had such an outsized role in decisions large and small that many of her citizens can’t imagine her ministers managing too long without her.

The Oct. 27 congressional elections are less than three weeks away, and the ruling party now lacks its top campaigner. Another devastating default became more likely this week when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Argentina’s initial appeal in its debt fight. The economy has slowed, the currency is losing value and inflation is soaring.

Ruling party lawmakers were making the best of it, aiming to pass a 2014 budget Wednesday. But many have questioned Boudou’s leadership because of the corruption investigations he faces, and the presidency didn’t make public the formal transfer-of-power document that usually indicates how long a president will need to be replaced.

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