Bolivia president says will call elections in coming hours
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La Paz (AFP)
Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez said Wednesday she will call elections in the coming hours, after deadly unrest following the resignation of Evo Morales in the wake of the disputed October 20 ballot.
The announcement comes a day after three protesters were killed and dozens wounded in clashes with security forces near the capital La Paz, taking the death toll to at least 27 over the past month.
"God willing, today, in the morning, we will call elections as the entire country is demanding," Anez told reporters.
Unrest in Bolivia first erupted after Morales -- the country's first indigenous president -- was accused of rigging the results of last month's polls to gain reelection.
He resigned and fled to Mexico after losing the support of the security forces.
Anez, the 52-year-old former deputy speaker of the Senate, declared herself the country's interim president last week, filling a vacuum left by Morales' departure and the resignations of several ministers.
Since Morales stepped down, his supporters have demonstrated daily in the streets of La Paz and in some provincial cities to demand Anez's departure.
The deadliest clashes occurred Friday in the central city of Cochabamba -- a stronghold for Morales -- where nine people were killed in a confrontation with the army and police.
Hand-in-hand with the protests have been blockades of the main roads leading from agricultural regions to La Paz and other major cities.
Agricultural produce like meat, chicken and eggs was running short in high-altitude La Paz.
Tuesday's violence happened as security forces lifted a siege on a fuel plant in El Alto that had caused severe shortages in the nearby capital.
A spokesman for the ombudsman's office said two of those killed Tuesday had been hit by gunfire, including a 31-year old man.
The army said in a statement that "agitators and vandals" had attacked and partially destroyed the Senkata fuel plant, "using high-powered explosives."
A convoy of around 50 fuel tankers was able to leave the Senkata plant for the first time in more than a week after police and military forces using armored vehicles secured the route to neighboring La Paz.
Morales supporters erected barricades around the El Alto plant last week to protest what they said was a coup by Anez.
Many businesses in El Alto remained closed Wednesday morning, an AFP reporter said.
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