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Ousted Ecuador Chief Denies He’s Crazy

Associated Press

Bill Clinton plays the saxophone. Argentina’s Carlos Menem dreams of being a soccer star. Peru’s Alberto Fujimori once sat in a hot spring with his shirt on.

And yet they’re not ousted for “mental incapacity,” as he was, Ecuador’s deposed president Abdala Bucaram said Thursday.

“I behave in public like I do in private, and so they claim I’m crazy,” Bucaram told a news conference. “Remember that when I sing, a million dollars get donated to the poor. It’s social work.”

Bucaram, a flamboyant populist who calls himself “El Loco,” arrived in Argentina on Thursday as part of a Latin American tour to gather support for his bid to regain office after his removal last week.

Accusing him of deepening the country’s economic ills with his erratic behavior, Congress voted him out of office and replaced him temporarily with the head of Congress, Fabian Alarcon.

Bucaram is known for his raucous performances of “Jailhouse Rock” in Spanish and a CD called “A Crazy Man in Love.”

But he said Thursday that far from being a liability or an embarrassment, his musical gifts have helped put the country on the world map.

“Thanks to Bucaram, for the first time people know where Ecuador is and who we are,” he said. “We’ve even been invited to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait - the places where the cash is.”

Bucaram blew kisses to camera crews on arrival at Ezeiza airport Thursday morning. At noon, he lunched at the presidential residence with Menem, who backed him after his ouster.

Bucaram, who said he is on a mission to “restore democracy to Ecuador,” vowed to return there Feb. 26 to stage a rally that he said would “shut the country down.”

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