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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Press wary after new leader takes office
Mas leader Evo Morales
Evo Morales - blamed for the unrest

Newspapers in Bolivia have given a cautious welcome to the change of president late last week, which has led to a decrease in tension over the past few days.

However, commentators believe the new man, Supreme Court head Eduardo Rodriguez Veltze, will have his work cut out to bring stability to one of South America's poorest nations.

A particular source of worry is the attitude of the opposition Movement Towards Socialism (Mas) and its leader, Evo Morales, a prospective presidential candidate who was runner-up in the 2002 elections.

If Evo Morales breaks the penal code, he should be tried like any of the other petty tyrants
El Deber

Writing in El Deber, a daily in the influential lowland region of Santa Cruz, one commentator describes Mr Morales as "a petty tyrant" and attacks his Mas movement for being prepared to shut down the country and cause hardship to the poor to advance its cause.

Accusing the Mas leader of being "against democracy", the writer says: "If Evo Morales breaks the penal code, he should be tried like any of the other petty tyrants responsible for the present unrest."

The likelihood of Mr Morales running in presidential elections likely to be held in the next nine months makes the commentator uneasy.

"If the Mas loses, we can only suppose the movement will take to the streets again for a replay of the chaos we have just experienced."

An editorial in the daily calls for a government which can "truly govern, which fails to fall hostage to the radical minorities".

'Demagogues and adventurers'

In similar vein, the Cochabamba paper Los Tiempos warns that the new president will be faced by a series of obstacles, "emanating above all from sectors of society easily swayed by the discourse of demagogues and adventurers".

However, it welcomes the temporary respite which it hopes will "open the horizon of a better future to the new generations".

The La Paz paper La Razon agonises over the state of affairs in the nation's largest conurbation, which suffered a prolonged siege, describing La Paz as "a defenceless city taken hostage by protesters".

"The patience of the La Paz residents is limitless. They accept being smitten like Job. Nobody protects them."

If the politicians don't know how to protect democracy, the armed forces will do it for them
El Diario

"In the long run, it will be necessary to open new access routes to La Paz. It cannot continue to be held hostage. This historic task will need to be undertaken by a great local leader - but there is nobody who fits the bill at present."

The powerful role the armed forces play in Bolivia, like many other Latin American countries, is highlighted in another La Paz paper, El Diario.

"The nation's armed forces gave another example of their respect for democracy... The armed forces have maintained respect for the system, while the politicians failed to honour democracy and freedom. The politicians were responsible for the descent into dictatorship."

"This is a warning for the future. A warning that if the politicians don't know how to protect democracy, the armed forces will do it for them."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.




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