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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 January 2006, 15:52 GMT
Bolivia's Morales visits S Africa
Evo Morales and ANC Secretary General Kgalema Molanthe
Evo Morales (left): "We share a common history of discrimination"
Bolivia's president-elect Evo Morales is in South Africa on the latest leg of his world tour ahead of his inauguration on 22 January.

On arriving, he said South Africa's struggle against apartheid was similar to the political struggle in Bolivia.

An Aymara Indian, Mr Morales will be Bolivia's first indigenous president.

He is due to meet South African President Thabo Mbeki on Wednesday. He has said he also hopes to meet his hero, Nelson Mandela.

The Bolivian leader arrived in South Africa from China, where he appealed to business leaders to help him use Bolivia's big reserves of gas to alleviate poverty.

He has already visited several European and Latin American countries ahead of his inauguration.

'Common history'

Mr Morales was holding talks on Tuesday with the Secretary General of the ruling ANC party, Kgalema Molanthe.

He was also expected to visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.

"The struggle of our South African brothers is the same as the struggle of our people," Mr Morales said.

"We were discriminated against as a people. We share a common history of discrimination."

Bolivia's indigenous majority live mostly in poverty, governed for centuries by a wealthy minority, predominantly of Spanish and European extraction.

Mr Morales has vowed not to forget the people who put him in power, and has said he will take a pay cut of 50% when he takes office which he says will help pay the salaries of new teachers.

Correspondents say he has spent most of this whistle-stop world tour succeeding in not appearing like a typical politician, appearing in informal clothes, which he made his trademark when campaigning for the presidency.

Mr Morales won the December election on pledges to increase social spending and turn away from free-market policies.

He was elected with nearly 54% of the vote, the biggest support for any candidate since democracy was restored in Bolivia in the 1980s.


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