The discontent among Argentinians over the way their government is handling the country's economic crisis is understandable. With their bank accounts frozen and the Government unable to present a viable plan to overcome its enormous debt burden, it is obvious that savings are at risk. Violence has been returning to the country's streets and President Eduardo Duhalde - Argentina's fifth leader since December - is looking increasingly vulnerable. With public accusations that all politicians are corrupt urging the protesters on, it is apparent that no equitable solution will be reached by political means. Mr Duhalde was surprised by a High Court ruling on Friday that the Government's freezing of bank accounts was illegal. Withdrawals were restricted and many accounts frozen on December 1 after panicky Argentinians withdrew US$2 billion (HK$15.6 billion) on a single day amid reports that the country would default on repayment of its huge international loans. Shortly after, the peg between the US dollar and the Argentine peso was dropped and the currency went into free-fall along with confidence, pulling it down in value by more than 50 per cent. The regulations limit cash withdrawals from most accounts to about US$800 and freezes many dollar-denominated deposits until 2003. More than US$76 billion is tied up in the banks, and with the Central Bank holding just US$17 billion, the reasons for the Government refusing to let Argentinians withdraw their cash is clear. To buy time after the High Court's decision, it has declared tomorrow and Tuesday holidays while it grapples with its next move. Argentina's people have a right to be angry. Their government has woefully mishandled the economy and plunged the country into a debt from which international lenders are reluctant to rescue it. Billions of dollars have been squandered and it seems the only way out is for the lenders, such as the International Monetary Fund, to step in and take control. It is in their interests. Argentina's economy has been in recession for four years and it has been joined by many other nations. There is potential for its problems to spill into neighbouring countries. It is in the interests of the world community to act. But the Government must also critically assess itself. It is to blame and fresh elections must be called and the people given a chance to express their frustrations at the ballot box - rather than on the streets, where lives are at risk.