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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 November 2007, 11:41 GMT
Bolivian strikers vow more action
Graffiti reads "Long live the indigenous revolution" in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on Wednesday
Morales says Bolivia's indigenous poor have been denied a voice
Opposition leaders in Bolivia have promised a fresh wave of protests against a new draft constitution.

Their call follows a strike on Wednesday that closed banks, schools and public transport in six of Bolivia's nine provinces.

The opposition argue that the proposed constitutional changes will give the government too much power.

President Evo Morales says the reforms will finally give indigenous and poor Bolivians a say in running the country.

The strike was relatively peaceful and attracted the strongest support in the gas-rich province of Santa Cruz - an opposition stronghold.

The local Santa Cruz leader, Branko Marinkovic, announced an indefinite hunger strike starting on Monday.

Mr Marinkovic also urged the provinces to lobby internatinal organisations against what he desrcibed as a "breakdown in democracy".

There was less support for the strike in the central city of Cochabamba and the Bolivian government described the protest as a failure.

'Defending neoliberalism'

Mr Morales condemned the strikers in a rally in the main city of La Paz.

"The strike... is against this process of change, the new economic model, against the nationalisation of natural resources," he was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

Map of Bolivia
There is disagreement about which city should be Bolivia's capital

"At heart, it's about defending the neoliberal model that has done so much harm to the country."

One key sticking point in the constitutional changes is the designation of Bolivia's capital.

Sucre has seen weeks of unrest by protesters supporting opposition plans to make the city the sole capital of Bolivia.

Four people were killed over the weekend, prompting appeals for calm from the US and the United Nations.

Sucre is currently home to the Supreme Court, and was Bolivia's capital until 1899, but since then it has shared the title with La Paz.

Military guard

Opposition anger is compounded by the way the government has pushed its reforms through the assembly elected to write the new constitution.

On Saturday, the opposition boycotted a meeting of the Constituent Assembly which voted through the draft constitution under military guard.

Bolivians are also split over how much autonomy to give to its increasingly restless provinces such as Santa Cruz.

The final draft constitution will be put to a national referendum but no date has yet been set.

BBC South America correspondent Daniel Schweimler says Bolivia has a long history of political upheaval and appears to be heading for another crisis.



SEE ALSO
Bolivia opposition calls strike
27 Nov 07 |  Americas
Fuelling Bolivia's crisis?
08 Nov 07 |  Business
Protesters attack bars in Bolivia
17 Oct 07 |  Americas
Morales defends Bolivia changes
22 Aug 07 |  Americas
Viewpoint: A new nationalism
09 Oct 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Bolivia
12 May 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bolivia
27 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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