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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Bolivian president to resign
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer
Mr Banzer's term is due to end in August 2002
Bolivian President Hugo Banzer, who is suffering from cancer, will resign on 6 August - Bolivia's Independence Day, government officials say.

Mr Banzer, aged 76, is currently undergoing treatment for lung cancer in a hospital in Washington DC in the United States.

The president is resigning voluntarily, without pressure from anybody

Information Minister Manfredo Kempff
Vice-president Jorge Quiroga is expected to serve out the remainder of Mr Banzer's term, which runs until 2002.

The statement comes two days after it was announced that the president would return to Bolivia to participate in Independence Day festivities, and deliver his annual state-of-the-nation address.

Information minister Manfredo Kempff said the president was resigning voluntarily, and not because of pressure from Bolivia's business leaders.


On Thursday, the head of the Bolivia's Confederation of Private Businesses, Carlos Calvo, said Mr Banzer's absence and fragile health were seriously affecting the country's economic and political situation.

Bolivian miner
Bolivia's economic situation has not improved under Mr Banzer

Vice-president Quiroga has been running Bolivia since Mr Banzer, a heavy smoker, left for treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington on 1 July .

At the time, the president said he was suffering from a spine complaint, and was expecting to stay in hospital for 12 days.

However, doctors diagnosed cancer, and said the president would require special medical treatment for at least 30 days.

It is unclear whether Mr Banzer's outlook and condition has improved or deteriorated since his treatment.

Difficult term

Mr Banzer's popularity ratings have been low ever since he became president in 1997.

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

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

During military rule, is estimated that about 14,000 Bolivians were detained as political prisoners. At least 200 of those held were executed.

He later formed his own political party and after several unsuccessful attempts, was democratically elected four year ago.

See also:

07 Jul 01 | Americas
Bolivian president's cancer spreads
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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