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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 October 2004, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
Bolivia backs trial for ex-leader
Bolivia's ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada
Sanchez de Lozada fled to the US
The Bolivian Congress has voted to put former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada on trial over the deaths of up to 80 people in October last year.

The violence erupted during protests at government plans to export natural gas.

Mr Sanchez de Lozada, 74, is currently in the US, where he fled after resigning from his post.

Congress voted overwhelmingly for him and 15 other members of his ousted cabinet to be put on trial. The vote was backed by members of his own party.

Congress debated the motion for 12 hours before 126 of the 140 members decided to summon Mr Sanchez de Lozada for trial.

Discontent

If the case goes ahead, he will become the first democratically elected president of Bolivia to be put in the dock.

The former president was a strident supporter of free-market reforms.

But many Bolivians were angered at plans to export natural gas through Chile, a traditional enemy.

Discontent with the country's economy also contributed to more than a month of violent protests at the end of last year.

Dozens of people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters.

Opposition parties and labour unions accused the president of authorising excessive force and a campaign of repression against his political rivals.

He denied the accusations.


SEE ALSO:
Renewed protests loom in Bolivia
12 Oct 04 |  Americas
Bolivia signs big gas export deal
04 Aug 04 |  Americas
Fresh anger over Bolivia gas plan
16 Apr 04 |  Americas
Q&A: Bolivian gas protests
18 Oct 03 |  Americas
Country profile: Bolivia
06 May 04 |  Country profiles


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