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Wednesday, 8 August, 2001, 01:54 GMT 02:54 UK
New president takes over in Bolivia
President Banzer handed over the ceremonial sash to Mr Quiroga at a ceremony on Monday
The new generation takes over from the old
In Bolivia, 41-year-old Jorge Quiroga has been sworn in as president, replacing Hugo Banzer who is suffering from cancer.

In a ceremony in the colonial city of Sucre, Mr Quiroga was installed to complete the current five-year presidential term, due to end in August 2002.

Jorge Quiroga
Quiroga paid tribute to his predecessor
In his inauguration speech, Mr Quiroga praised his predecessor, saying: "With our applause, let's honour the man, the leader, and the statesman who left deep footprints in our history."

Mr Quiroga acknowledged his country's grave economic situation, and urged that a new constitution be created to open up politics in Bolivia.

There was also an official farewell from the Bolivian armed forces for 75-year-old Mr Banzer, a retired general who headed a military regime in the 1970s and came to power again in 1997 - this time through the ballot box. He stepped down on Monday.

Mr Quiroga, a US-educated engineer and vice-president for the past four years, takes over as Bolivia faces a growing number of problems, including economic woes, social discontent and political corruption.


The change in Bolivia's leadership followed quickly after President Banzer was diagnosed with lung and liver cancer in July.

Quiroga represents a new generation that is beginning to replace the old leaders

Carlos Toranzo
Political analyst
He decided to resign in favour of his close confidante Mr Quiroga, who belongs to Mr Banzer's own Nationalist Democratic Action Party (ADN).

Speaking at a ceremony on Monday, Mr Banzer said his illness had led him to resign for the good of Bolivia.

But he leaves behind a country in dire economic straits and threatened by social and political instability.

Six out of 10 people live in poverty, and unemployment is about 10% in South America's poorest nation.

Bolivia's new president
Graduate of Texas A&M University
MBA from St Edward's University, Austin
Worked seven years with IBM, Austin
Appointed vice-president 1997
Married to American Virginia Gillum
Father of four
Correspondents say Mr Quiroga is seen as capable in economic matters, unlike Mr Banzer who was often accused of being out of touch with the world's modern-day economy.

"Quiroga represents a new generation that is beginning to replace the old leaders," the political and economic analyst Carlos Toranzo told Associated Press news agency.

"We're in a moment of opportunity," he said.

Coca campaign

Nevertheless, the new president will face a huge range of challenges.

He is keen to continue with Bolivia's efforts to eradicate the production of coca - the raw ingredient of cocaine.

Bolivian soldiers searching for illegal coca crops
Mr Quiroga wants to continue with the coca eradication programme
Mr Banzer made this issue one of his government's priorities.

But Bolivia's peasant farmers have campaigned fiercely to stop the eradication of crops they say are vital to their livelihood.

They have staged a series of road blockades in protest, and have threatened to resume their direct action if Mr Quiroga does not listen to their concerns.

The new president may also face internal challenges within the ADN, which will still be headed by Mr Banzer and includes other older members unhappy with the modern wing led by Mr Quiroga.

The new president has just a year to make his mark. The Bolivian constitution bars him from standing for re-election until 2007.

The BBC's Claire Marshall
"He inherits a country classified as the poorest in South America"
See also:

27 Jul 01 | Americas
Bolivian president to resign
07 Jul 01 | Americas
Bolivian president's cancer spreads
30 Jul 01 | Americas
Timeline: Bolivia
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bolivia
09 Jun 00 | Americas
Bolivia wages war on the coca leaf
10 Apr 00 | Americas
Bolivia protests claim further lives
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