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Home Category Table Bolivia military denies it is plotting coup
Bolivia military denies it is plotting coup PDF Print E-mail
Written by <b>Mario Roque, <i>Reuters</i></b>   
Wednesday, 25 May 2005 00:00
LA PAZ, Bolivia, May 25 (Reuters) - The head of Bolivia's armed forces denied on Wednesday the military was preparing for a coup, as the government vowed to prosecute two officers who called for the ouster of President Carlos Mesa.

Rumors of a coup have persisted as protests convulse South America's poorest nation. Leftist peasant groups are calling for a new constitution and the nationalization of Bolivia's natural gas reserves, while provinces rich in natural resources demand more regional autonomy.

On Wednesday morning, Lt. Cols. Julio Herrera and Julio Cesar Galindo, on behalf of a "generational movement of military personnel," told local media a military-civilian government should replace Mesa.

Armed forces Commander in Chief Adm. Luis Aranda called the statements "irresponsible and untimely" and Defense Minister Oscar Arredondo vowed to try the two officers in military court, describing the situation as an "isolated incident."

"They aim to sully the military institution with their coup-plotting zeal when the armed forces respect the state of law and the existing institutions," Aranda said. "There is subordination and respect in small and large military units."

In a broadcast by radio station Erbol, Herrera called for complete control over hydrocarbons and a constitutional assembly "to decide what steps to take." The demands reflected those of the Indian protesters who flooded La Paz on Tuesday.

"The government we want to build is with the participation of all
sectors, and if this revolution triumphs, there will only be two military officers in the future Cabinet," Herrera said.

Protests and road blockades near La Paz come a week after Congress passed a law raising taxes and breaking existing contracts with foreign oil companies. Companies decried the measure as too drastic, while leftist Indian groups called it too weak.

The capital was tied up for a third day on Wednesday with marches by peasants, miners, teachers, university students and residents of the militant neighboring city of El Alto.

Mesa, a political independent with few friends in Congress, vowed on Tuesday to stay in power to the end of his term in August 2007, despite the growing unrest.

Security forces tightened their grip on the Plaza Murillo in downtown La Paz to keep thousands of protesters from occupying the government palace and congressional building.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 September 2008 08:18

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