Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 12:48 UK

Morales offers dialogue to rivals

Bolivian President Evo Morales
President Morales says the vote backed his push for change

Bolivian President Evo Morales has offered to talk to his bitter political rivals after claiming victory in a vote on whether he should continue in power.

Sunday's recall referendum confirmed Mr Morales in office, along with four opposition governors, according to partial results.

Mr Morales has made it clear he intends to push on with his reforms, which the governors strongly oppose.

The vote has done little to ease Bolivia's deep divisions, analysts say.

The president said that once all the final results were known, he would call the governors, unions and rural workers' groups for talks.

'Frank dialogue'

The run-up to Sunday's vote was marked by at times violent protests.

Bolivia has become increasingly split between rich and poor, east and west, over the president's plans to radically reorganise the way the country is run, says the BBC's Daniel Schweimler in La Paz.

US state department spokesman Robert Wood said on Monday: "We reiterate our support for Bolivia's unity and territorial integrity."

Washington, he said, hoped both sides would "seize this opportunity to begin a frank dialogue".

A similar call was made by the head of the Organisation of American States' (OAS) observer mission in Bolivia, Eduardo Stein.

"The people are asking with this outcome that their leaders find a way to reach an accord," he said.

Mr Morales was in a buoyant mood as he met foreign journalists after securing his convincing victory, our correspondent says.

The National Electoral Court is expected to release official results in the coming days.


Mr Morales won more than 60% of the vote, according to partial results, enough to confirm him in office.

Cochabamba Governor Manfred Reyes Villa
Cochabamba's defeated governor says he does not recognise the result

Eight governors were also subject to recall votes. Five of them were victorious, according to partial results.

These include the powerful governor of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, and three other opposition governors who have all pushed for greater autonomy for their provinces.

"Our vote has decreed the death, once and for all, of a political system from the past century, giving way to a new system, built on the regions," Mr Costas said. He has said his province will create its own police force and tax system.

Mr Morales's broad aim is to tackle poverty by granting the majority indigenous population a greater share of the nation's wealth and land.

But many in the gas-rich east of the country oppose the president's proposals and resent the central government cutting their share of gas revenues.

It remains unclear what concessions, if any, President Morales would be willing to make. In his victory speech on Sunday, the president said the result had vindicated his push for reform.

Bolivian poll unites and divides
11 Aug 08 |  Americas
Bolivia protests prevent summit
05 Aug 08 |  Americas
Governors snub Bolivia referendum
24 Jun 08 |  Americas
Setback to Bolivian reform plan
08 Mar 08 |  Americas
Battle for Bolivia's heart
08 Sep 07 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Bolivia
22 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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