Eight candidates running for Bolivia presidential election, including two indigenous leaders

When Bolivians elect their next president in December, they will choose from eight men, two of whom are Indian leaders and one who is the son of Japanese immigrants.

None of the leaders of the traditionally powerful political parties are running, even as they struggle to maintain significance in the country's politically volatile atmosphere.

After the deadline passed for candidates to register by midnight Monday it was disclosed that many politicians had changed party allegiances. A fight broke out at the doors of the electoral court between the followers of two presidential front-runners, Evo Morales and Jorge Quiroga.

Candidates in the running for the Dec. 4 election include: Quiroga, who served as president 2001-2002 after President Hugo Banzer fell ill; Morales, leader of the coca leaf farmers; cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina; Indian leader Felipe Quispe; businessman Michiaki Nagatani; retired serviceman Gildo Angulo; lawyer Nestor Garcia; and agronomist Eliseo Rodriguez.

This is the fewest number of presidential candidates running since Bolivia returned to democratic governance in 1982.

The eight political parties representing the presidential candidates also registered their candidates for the country's 27 senate seats, 127 deputy seats and nine provincial governorships.

Among the vice presidential candidates are three women, one of whom is Indian and another who is a famous television news presenter.

Hormando Vaca Diez, former Congress president, surprised the country by backing out at the last minute as the presidential candidate for the traditionally powerful Movement of the Revolutionary Left party. Just two months ago, when President Carlos Mesa resigned in the face of relentless street protests, Vaca Diez was next in line for the presidency.

He said his departure was due to a disagreement with the party's leader and former Bolivian president Jaime Paz Zamora.

"You can fight with outsiders, but you can't get hit from the inside," Vaca Diez said.

Reviled by street protesters, Vaca Diez was pressured to pass the presidency down to Eduardo Rodriguez, head of the Supreme Court.

Rodriguez, who took over as president in June, set early elections for December, AP reported.

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