Bolivia’s rival factions pursue dialogue to douse anger on streets


LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivia’s rival political factions were pursuing dialogue on Friday to unsnarl a democratic crisis, to help calm anger on the streets of highland city of La Paz despite schools remaining closed and fuel deliveries disrupted by road blocks.

The South American country’s interim government and lawmakers from the party of unseated leftist leader Evo Morales appeared to have reached an accord late on Thursday to work toward a new presidential election, potentially helping resolve country’s political crisis.

Morales, who led Bolivia since 2006, resigned under pressure on Sunday after weeks of protests and violence following an Oct. 20 election that awarded an outright win to him but was tarnished by widespread allegations of fraud.

Interim President Jeanine Anez, who has pledged to call quick elections but not given a date, told reporters on Friday the country’s was in a “transitional stage.”

“We will make the greatest efforts to return the country to normal,” she said.

Morales, a charismatic leftist and the South American country’s first indigenous president, flew earlier this week with his vice president, Alvaro Garcia, to Mexico, where they were granted asylum.

Anez has said that Morales would not be welcome in new elections, after his outright victory in the October vote was mired in allegations of electoral fraud. Morales maintains that he was the victim of a coup.

Amid increasing presence of security forces on the streets, at least 10 people have been killed in the protests since last month’s vote, the public prosecutor’s office said, mostly by projectiles from firearms.

Reporting by Danny Ramos; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky