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Monday, 5 August, 2002, 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK
New Bolivian head outlines programme
Lozada's supporters celebrate his victory in La Paz
Lozada's supporters celebrated his clear victory

Bolivia's newly-elected President, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, has promised public works programmes to meet the country's serious unemployment problem.

Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada promised more jobs
Mr Sanchez de Lozada, 72, acknowledged that like other South American countries, Bolivia was facing an economic crisis.

But he said he would fulfil his campaign promises and begin an immediate programme of public works, like road and house building, to provide jobs.

He also said he would only decide the controversial gas export question after consulting the population.

'At knockdown price'

Mr Sanchez de Lozada called a press conference to outline his plans for the government immediately after his election was confirmed by Bolivia's National Congress.

Congressmen in La Paz
The all-night session took its toll on some deputies

He also said a new national gas policy will be drawn up, but no decisions will be taken on the plan to sell natural gas to California at a knockdown price before the population had been consulted.

Bolivia's neighbours, Chile and Peru, are competing to provide port facilities for the export of the gas.

The president-elect did not mention his plans in regard to Bolivia's coca growers, whose leader, Evo Morales, he defeated in the presidential election.

Powerful opposition

The US Government would like to see Bolivia eradicate all its coca bushes, although it has been a traditional crop here since pre-Incan times.
Evo Morales
Evo Morales will now lead the opposition

Mr Sanchez de Lozada's first steps seem to be an acknowledgement of the new power of the opposition, which has a strong social and nationalist agenda.

This opposition, made up of representatives from indigenous coca growers and trade unions, now has a third of the seats in congress.

Now it will be led by Evo Morales, who was elected deputy for Cochabamba besides running for the presidency.

The inauguration of the new president will take place on Tuesday, with the Venezuelan and Peruvian presidents expected to attend.

But the US Government's choice of the man who heads its anti-drug programme to represent it has not gone down very well in Bolivia.

See also:

04 Aug 02 | Americas
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05 May 02 | Americas
28 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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