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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 October, 2003, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Bolivian leader's acceptance speech
Newly sworn-in Bolivian President Carlos Mesa
President Carlos Mesa promises a fairer society

Newly sworn-in Bolivian President Carlos Mesa has promised a referendum on the sale of natural gas to the US and Mexico and said a presidential election would be called within a reasonable period.

Here are excerpts from his speech to Congress:

My first duty, fellow citizens, is to pay my most sincere tribute to the men and women of Bolivia who these days have given their lives for the fatherland, democracy, the future and life itself...

The issue of gas cannot be addressed today without the participation of all Bolivians alike
Today we cannot look at Bolivia if we do not look at those who for centuries have been excluded, if we do not accept that which is nothing other than a legitimate presence, a legitimate demand and a legitimate right for truly first-rate citizens of a country of equals. Bolivia is not yet a country of equals...

Because none of you is unaware that Bolivia's unity is in jeopardy, today I want to urge all Bolivians to understand ourselves as a whole, to respect one another, to put our shoulders together in that common scenario that we share...

My government has the challenge of addressing the issue of gas. The issue of gas cannot be addressed today without the participation of all Bolivians alike...

What we decide on this natural resource will be a decisive factor in our domestic development and our relations with the world. When we make a decision, we must think about what it entails. Bolivian society has demanded a binding referendum, and the response by President Carlos Mesa is the commitment to hold a binding referendum...
We must create a state that responds to the citizens' needs, and we need citizens who feel committed to their state because that state serves the citizens
Another basic issue is the temporary nature of my government. The state's political constitution and the mandate that this Congress bestows on me... indicate that my mandate is due to end on 6 August 2007.

I want to formally ask the National Congress to consider a historical transition that allows us... to call honest, credible and effective elections to appoint a new president within the time considered reasonable by this Congress and the executive that is about to start its work...

All the Bolivian Government institutions currently face a serious crisis. We must work hard to strengthen each and every one of the state institutions and to change the state's relations with society, which are currently broken...

We must create a state that responds to the citizens' needs, and we need citizens who feel committed to their state because that state serves the citizens...

Bolivia's destiny is in our hands... Let us work for a vision that guarantees and protects the unity and diversity of our fatherland. Let us work to create a nation that shelters us with greater equity and justice; and let us recognise that what we have not done throughout the centuries for our excluded fellow citizens will be done...

I will not be able to rule without you. You and I have the same responsibility. I do, as Bolivia's number one servant. Servant - one who serves the nation, not one whom the nation serves...

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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