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Last Updated: Friday, 16 December 2005, 13:09 GMT
Profile: Jorge Quiroga
Conservative candidate Jorge Quiroga is hoping to become Bolivia's head of state for the second time.

Jorge Quiroga
Mr Quiroga worked for the World Bank and the IMF
The US-educated engineer served as president in 2001-02 after President Hugo Banzer fell ill.

But this time he has to face a strong frontrunner in the polls, the left-leaning Evo Morales.

Mr Quiroga, 45, thinks he can beat the coca farmers' leader with a more moderate and modernising programme.

Unlike Mr Morales, Mr Quiroga has called for a "zero coca" policy and a crackdown on the roadblocks that cripple the country during protests.

He says he wants to create more jobs by building up the productive sector and broadening the scope of free-trade agreements.

Bolivia has Latin America's second largest gas reserves, and hydrocarbons are its main source of income. They are also a source of division among Bolivians, and some sectors are demanding nationalisation of the gas and oil sector.

A former consultant for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Quiroga proposes to tackle the issue by raising the export price for gas and channelling the funds into social programmes aimed at the poor.

He also says he will concentrate on getting Bolivia's foreign debt cancelled.

Unlike Mr Morales, he is seen as being close to the United States. He insists, however, that he wants Bolivia to be politically independent from Washington.

Elitist?

Mr Quiroga has his power base in the middle and upper classes.

He denies accusations of elitism saying that he believes Bolivia's indigenous majority should be more integrated to the country's political life.

President Hugo Banzer handing over the ceremonial sash to his successor, Jorge Quiroga
Ill President Hugo Banzer handed power to him in 2001

The conservative candidate - known as Tuto - was born in the western city of Cochabamba in 1960.

He graduated as an industrial engineer at Texas University and later worked for IBM in the United States. He is married to American Virginia Gillum.

After returning to Bolivia in 1988, he joined Nationalist Democratic Action (ADN), the party of Hugo Banzer - a former military ruler who later became his mentor.

Mr Quiroga was appointed finance minister in 1992 and later was chosen by Mr Banzer as his running-mate for the 1997 elections. He was sworn in as Bolivia's vice-president that year.

But in 2001, his mentor resigned and handed power to him after being diagnosed with lung and liver cancer.

Export project

His government was marked by efforts to wipe out coca - a plant which has traditional uses in the Andes, but is also the raw material for cocaine.

Mr Quiroga is now the leader of the right-leaning Democratic and Social Power party (Podemos).

His supporters believe his experience makes him the best man for Bolivia's top job.

But his critics say that, because of his privileged background, he has very little in common with the majority of Bolivians and will never understand their real problems.


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