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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 October, 2003, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
Text: Bolivia leader's resignation letter
Former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada has now left Bolivia
Here is the full text of the letter of resignation submitted by Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada to the Congress in La Paz.

The letter was read out by a Congress secretary at an emergency session of the legislature broadcast live on Bolivian ATB Red Nacional de Television.

Honourable Congressmen: Bolivia is facing a critical time. Democracy is under siege by corporate, political and union groups that do not believe in it and use it in any way they please.

All this has manifested itself in a scenario of sedition that on the pretext of natural gas exports has violated the essence of democracy - respect for the outcome of elections held to choose rulers.

While talks were rejected, that issue has been used to make me resign.
We know that democracy is a privilege we must preserve in order to keep the Bolivian nation united
I have been blamed not only for the current problems the republic is facing, but also for the lack of solutions.

If that were the issue, my resignation, which I am placing at the consideration of the honourable National Congress, should be enough to solve the nation's problems.

But even though I want this fervently, I am afraid that the solution will not be that easy.

The deep roots of this crisis oblige one to make an essential analysis that the passions currently unleashed do not allow.

Time will do this for us, and I commend myself to it in order to find the serene and objective balance that circumstances currently prevent us from achieving.

For us Bolivians, it has cost a great deal to attain and keep democracy.
This is an unfortunate precedent for democracy in Bolivia and the continent
Today we know that democracy is a privilege we must preserve in order to keep the Bolivian nation united.

With freedom and dignity, the president of the Republic is the symbol of this unity amid national diversity, a diversity that must be a source of pride, not of conflict and violence.

As I submit my resignation for the consideration of the honourable National Congress, I do so with the profound conviction that its acceptance is no longer consistent with the norm that a democratically elected president cannot be removed through outlawed mechanisms of pressure and violence.

This is an unfortunate precedent for democracy in Bolivia and the continent.

According to Article 68, paragraph 4, of the Political Constitution, Congress must decide whether to accept or reject it.
It is my duty to warn you that the dangers looming over the fatherland remain intact - national disintegration, authoritarianism by corporations and unions, and fratricidal violence
If it accepts, the vice president of the Republic should take over the presidency and perform its duties until the end of the constitutional term, in accordance with Article 93, paragraph 2 of the Constitution.

This is a task that Congress must tackle with the responsibility demanded by these times.

It is my duty, however, to warn you that the dangers looming over the fatherland remain intact - national disintegration, authoritarianism by corporations and unions, and fratricidal violence.

These dangers stem from historical circumstances and the fact that the essence of democracy has been questioned.

I hope to God that we will not be made to regret all this one day.

Honourable Congressmen: I have served Bolivia with unlimited devotion and dedication.

This is the best reward I could have earned in my life. I thank God for this privilege, and I ask him, from the bottom of my heart, to enlighten and bless all Bolivians.

17 October 2003. Signed by Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, constitutional president of the Republic of Bolivia.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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