Eduardo Rodríguez becomes president of Bolivia

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Some minutes before midnight local time on Thursday, Eduardo Rodriguez Veltzé, then President of the Supreme Court of Justice, took oath as the new president of Bolivia, a country that has found itself plunged in a serious crisis for several months.

Earlier on Thursday, the Legislature had suspended the session that had predicted, in the House of the Liberty of Sucre, to decide the name of the new president of the Bolivians, due to the intensified protests after it become known that a minor was killed by the Army. The demonstrations also brought along a strong resistance of various social sectors to possible appointment of Hormando Vaca Diez, president of the Senate, or Mario Cossío, president of the House of Representatives, who constitutionally would have to succeed departing president Carlos Mesa, who resigned on Monday night.

Nevertheless, at 22:45 local time (02:45 UTC on Friday), Congress resumed the session, accepted unanimously the renunciation of Mesa, and named Rodriguez Veltzé, a 49-year-old lawyer from Cochabamba, as the new temporary president of the country, after Vaca Diez and Cossio declined their rights of succession. In his acceptance speech, Rodriguez Veltzé said he's convinced that his mandate "has to do with a renewal of the system" and promised to call the anticipated elections in a maximum of 150 days, just as the Bolivian Constitution says. Besides, he asked his countrymen to "give him a necessary and prudent time to elect a new constitutional president" and to "stop all the pressures and all the mobilizations".

The coca leader Evo Morales, main opponent of Mesa and Vaca Diez, has previously endorsed the appointment of Rodriguez Veltzé and, although he wants a constitutional assembly, probably desists as the temporary president fulfills his promise to call anticipated polls, possibly next December. By aside, the Congress would have that to call to parliamentary elections, since the Constitution only obliges the temporary president to call assemblies for president and vice president.