Bolivian President resigns amid separatism threats

Thousands fill the streets in support of the leader

As a new wave of protests and roadblocks paralyzes Bolivia, country's President, Carlos Mesa announced on Sunday that he will offer his resigation to the Congress on Monday. Mesa's decisoin, judged by the leftist opposition as a “blackmail”, came as the oil rich eastern regions of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Tarija resumed their claims for autonomy from the central power.

"Tomorrow, I will submit my resignation to the president of Congress, so Congress can make a decision," Mesa said in a nationally broadcast address. Mesa said the recent protests by a variety of political and social organizations are "blocking the country” and making governance impossible.

At the time Mesa was airing his speech, country's main roads remained blocked, mainly in El Alto, district next to country's capital, La Paz. There, thousands of Bolivians filled Murillo Square at the gates of the Palace of Government in support of Mesa who, according to last polls enjoys 60% of popularity. Mesa addressed the crow from Palace's balcony to thank the support and made calls to preserve country's territory integrity.

Leftist leader Evo Morales said that Mesa is not willing to resign, but only interested in “blackmailing” Bolivians. Morales who headed recent social protests said Mesa's move means an attempt to shift to “neoliberal (pro-market) policies” aiming to “block” national development and benefit multinational corporations. National Armed Forces remained at their quarters as its commanders confirmed no troops will be mobilized.

Mesa took office in October 2003, succeeding President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who was forced to resign in the wake of bloody street protests that took the lives of at least 56 people. Mesa's government has faced a series of protests in recent weeks, with street demonstrations and road blockades throughout the country.

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Author`s name Olga Savka