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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
New Bolivian president's address: excerpts
Mr Rodriguez will be caretaker president until fresh elections

The interim president of Bolivia, Eduardo Rodriguez, said in his inaugural address that one of his priorities would be to organise fresh congressional elections so that "a fairer and more equitable democracy" emerged.

Mr Rodriguez also urged Bolivians to unite in the spirit of national solidarity.

The following are excerpts from his speech as broadcast by Bolivian media:

We have experienced more than 20 years of sustained democracy, with a great deal of difficulties and problems such as the ones we are experiencing these days...

I am convinced that one of my duties, one of my responsibilities, will be to summon this electoral process in which civic representation will be changed and renewed, so that this Congress... will continue to forge a fairer and more equitable democracy...

There still is a great deal to do though...

I am convinced that Bolivia deserves better days and that we can offer our children, our minors, those who will be the heirs of the republic, better days.

I want to fulfil my duty, as a judge of the republic, with a brief term, helped by Congress. I accept the offer of the presidency as well as all of your good intentions, so that we are capable of looking towards the future.

I want to ask - and I again ask and insist on this - that all Bolivians who face a difficult situation, and who have the right to exercise their right to protest, to ask and demand and insist on change... to do this perhaps in peace, with a great national agreement that allows us to approach, with firm convictions and realistic possibilities, all the great challenges...

Regional demands and [the issue of] autonomy deserve attention...

Also, let us be capable of discussing the issue of natural energy resources and their effective ownership by the Republic of Bolivia. The constitution states that the resources are originally owned by the state. Nothing has changed.

What has changed is the way to manage them, and it is Congress and the legislative branch which must be capable on this opportunity, or in its reviewed capacity following an electoral process, or when the most opportune moment occurs, to solve all the difficulties and render effective that constitutional principle, and a better way to recover what nature and God gave this country.

I am not driven by any other interest - be it political, partisan, or personal - regarding the presidency. I insist: I am a Supreme Court of Justice member and I intend to continue as such, and to carry out my work as a public official as long as I have to.

I issue an appeal for your co-operation. I issue an appeal to the Bolivian people so that we are capable of coming together in solidarity, of finding tomorrow the possibility of shaking each other's hand one more time in peace, and of being capable of jointly singing hymns of peace and unity. May God help us.

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