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Bolivia’s interim govt proposes election bill as deadly unrest continues


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Bolivia's interim government presented a bill on Wednesday that aims to forge a path to new elections and defuse street violence that has racked the country and killed 32 people since a disputed October vote.


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The South American country's two chambers of congress are expected to debate the election bill beginning on Thursday and possibly extending into Friday, which would annul the Oct. 20 poll and appoint a new electoral board within 15 days of its passage, paving the way for a new vote after long-term leftist leader Evo Morales resigned under pressure this month.

A date for new elections was not included in the proposal. The bill called for a "credible and professional" election body "in order to pacify the country and redirect democratic institutionality."

Currently led by a caretaker government, Bolivia is grappling to mend stark divisions between Morales' supporters and opponents seeking to move beyond his nearly 14-year rule.

Morales stepped down on Nov. 10 under pressure from protesters, civil groups, security forces and allies, as well as an international audit that found serious irregularities in the election count and cast doubt on his announced outright victory.

Since then, an interim government under conservative former Senator Jeanine Anez has struggled to quell deadly violence, and fanned some divisions with abrupt shifts in policy away from Morales, the country's first indigenous president.

In a statement earlier Wednesday, Anez said she would present the bill calling for new elections "as the whole country is demanding" and that it would be through legal, constitutional channels unless lawmakers blocked it.

"We have developed a basic bill. It can probably be corrected, agreed upon, enriched by all the sectors that are involved with the aim of pacifying the country and choosing our rulers," she said. "But there will be elections in the country; we guarantee it."

Conflict in the region of Cochabamba and the high-altitude city of El Alto has rattled Bolivia over the last week since Morales' departure, with clashes at a gas power plant blockade on Tuesday that left eight people dead.

The Ministry of Defence in a statement Wednesday said that supporters of Morales' MAS party were surrounding the plant with the intentions of damaging it with explosives. The ministry said the Armed Forces would safeguard the plant from any attack or takeover attempt.

The total number of deaths in the post-election unrest rose to 32, according to Bolivia's official human rights ombudsman – most of those in the last 10 days – spaRead More – Source