Demonstrators have been rallying behind Bolivia’s President, Carlos Mesa, who has announced he is stepping down in the face of pressure from protests by the country’s indigenous majority. Congress is likely to meet today to decide whether to accept Mesa’s resignation. The head of the armed forces, Luis Aranda, has appealed for calm;
“While Congress is looking into this matter, he is still the President of the Republic and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces,” Aranda said. “The situation throughout the country, according to the information we have, is under control, although some roads are blocked off.”
Indigenous peoples have occupied the highway from Cochabamba to Santa Cruz, the main transport artery linking the east and west of the country. Mesa’s 17-month-old presidency has been plagued by demonstrations by the country’s poorest people calling for the nationalisation of foreign investments, especially in the lucrative gas sector.