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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 July, 2005, 04:33 GMT 05:33 UK
Bolivia sets date for elections
Bolivian President Eduardo Rodriguez
Mr Rodriguez said democracy was the only way out of the crisis
Bolivia's interim president has confirmed the country will hold presidential and congressional elections at the end of the year.

Eduardo Rodriguez said the elections, originally due in 2007, would take place on 4 December 2005.

He said he hoped the polls would help lift Bolivia out of a political crisis sparked by weeks of protests.

On Wednesday the Bolivian Senate ratified a proposal to bring the elections forward.

Gas wealth

Bolivia's former President Carlos Mesa was forced to resign after increasingly violent protests over control of the country's rich natural resources.

Bolivia's interim president had pledged to call elections immediately after being nominated president.

"Only within the democratic system can we achieve solutions to the deepest of crisis," Mr Rodriguez said after signing three constitutional reform bills and two electoral decrees.

Bolivia's Senate approved the plans for early elections on Wednesday after it has been passed by the lower house of Congress.

Mr Rodriguez said he would also set up commissions to organise elections for a constituent assembly and a referendum on regional autonomy - two of the protesters' key demands.

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