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Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 21:42 GMT 22:42 UK
Bolivian president's cancer spreads
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer
Mr Banzer's term is due to end in August 2002
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer, 76, is considering his political future after learning that the cancer he is suffering from has spread from his lung to his liver.


Doctors have confirmed President Banzer has cancer in his left lung and liver

Information Minister
Manfredo Kempff
The announcement was made by the country's Information Minister, Manfredo Kempff, after he and other members of the cabinet travelled to the United States where Mr Banzer is receiving specialist treatment.

Mr Banzer's illness came to light last week when he flew to Washington because of what was initially described as a back problem.

He has been at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington since 30 June. Doctors there have called for him to remain in the hospital at least 30 more days.

Acting president

In accordance with the constitution, Vice President Jorge Quiroga has taken over as acting president during Mr Banzer's absence.


However, Mr Kempff said that any decision by the president to resign would depend on the outcome of the treatment.

"The president is aware of his responsibilities and will therefore take such decisions as may be appropriate," he said.

"His desire is to get better and return to the country as soon as possible," he added.

Mr Banzer took power in 1971 in a military coup and governed the country until he was ousted in another coup in 1978.

He later formed his own political party and was democratically elected four year ago. His five-year term is due to end in August 2002.

Bolivia, which suffers from widespread poverty, has been plagued by economic decline and social discontent throughout Mr Banzer's term.

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See also:

21 Jun 01 | Business
Bleak future for Bolivia's economy
10 Apr 00 | Americas
Bolivia protests claim further lives
06 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bolivia
28 Mar 01 | Americas
Timeline: Bolivia
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