Page last updated at 23:51 GMT, Sunday, 9 May 2010 00:51 UK

EU official backs Bolivia nationalisation

Police standing guard in front of an electric company
President Morales chose May Day for the take over of four power companies

A senior European Union official has said Bolivia has the right to nationalise companies as long as they are offered "fair compensation".

Kenneth Bell, the head of the EU delegation to Bolivia, said nationalisation was a sovereign right of the Bolivian government.

Mr Bell was speaking a week after the Bolivian president controversially seized four electricity companies.

Two of the plants were partly owned by a British and a French firm.

Police moved into the companies' offices on May Day, following a decree by President Evo Morales ordering their nationalisation.

In an interview with the Bolivian newspaper La Prensa, Mr Bell pointed out that in Europe a number of banks had been taken into state control during the global economic crisis.

He also said that despite the recent nationalisations, European firms such as Repsol, Total, and British Gas remained active in Bolivia.

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