Argentines Mourn Former President Nestor Kirchner

Thousands have converged on Argentina's government palace to pay their respects to ex-President Nestor Kirchner, who died on Wednesday at 60.

His body is lying in state to allow people to file past in honour of the man who was president from 2003 to 2007.

His wife Cristina Fernandez and their children have been attending the wake.

Mr Kirchner, succeeded by his wife as president, was expected to run in the 2011 election.

Relatives, government ministers and politicians have participated in the wake, while a steady stream of Argentines have been filing into the government palace to pay their respects.

Many were carrying candles, flags and flowers. Some applauded, others shouted ""Nestor, Nestor"" and ""Nestor is not dead, he will live on in the people,"" while walking past the coffin.

President Fernandez, dressed in black and wearing dark glasses, was joined at the wake by South American presidents and friends, including former soccer player Diego Maradona.

She placed a hand on her husband's flag-draped coffin, with their son and daughter standing next to her.

It was the leader's first appearance in public since her Mr Kirchner died of a heart attack Wednesday aged 60. On Wednesday night, thousands took to the streets of Buenos Aires to voice their grief.

Mr Kirchner's supporters gathered in front of the government palace, the Casa Rosada or Pink House, waving Argentina's blue and white flag, lighting candles and leaving flowers.

Mr Kirchner had suffered health problems and had a heart operation last month but nevertheless his death shocked many in Argentina, where three days of national mourning were declared.

His body was flown back to the capital, Buenos Aires, early on Thursday from the southern town of Calafate, where he died in hospital with his wife by his side."