Bolivia has a new candidate for the presidency, following the decision of its military President, General Hugo Banzer to stand down at the forthcoming general elections.
SV: President Banzer (seated, centre) listening to speech by Minister.
SV: People listening.
SV & CU: President Banzer and others listening to speeches. (TWO SHOTS)
CU: President Banzer speaking.
SV: Crowd applaud.
The amnesty and decision to relax the military rule will also mean that opposition parties are permitted for the first time since-1969. Already one radical left wing party, the Movimiento de Izguierda Revolucionara, the MIR, has announced publicly, its intention to participate in the elections if there are guarantees of genuine democratic freedoms.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Bolivia has a new candidate for the presidency, following the decision of its military President, General Hugo Banzer to stand down at the forthcoming general elections. The new man is the recently appointed commander of the air force, General Juan Pereda Asbun, President Banzer announced General Pereda's candidacy at a rally in the Miraflores Palace in Santa Cruz earlier this week (December 19). But on the same day, it was also announced that the President will take over as supreme commander of the armed forces, the most powerful job in the country. Until his appointment to the air force job, General Pereda was Minister of the Interior and had long been one of President Banzer's closest confidentes. Along with the announcement of the elections next July, the first since the military seized power from the left-wing regime of President Juna Jose Torres in 1971, the Government announced on Tuesday (December 20) a limited amnesty allowing hundreds of political exiles to return to the country.
SYNOPSIS: President Banzer, seated with ministers, was promoted to overall commander of the armed forces this week after announcing General Pereda's candidature for the presidency. The 51-year-old President, who critics claim has employed brutal methods to suppress opposition during his eight year rule, said that after the election, he would remain in Bolivia to safe-guard the process of national development. His decision to quit came as a surprise and it was his original intention to withdraw completely from public life. The army vetoed this. At the meeting in the capital, La Paz, regional leaders asked General Banzer to reconsider his decision to quit.
General Banzer promised the nation that whatever happened, there would be no return to anarchy and that the armed forces would not let the period prior to the elections be used by enemies of the state to provoke discord conflict and disorder. He said the military had undertaken to safeguard the running of the country. If necessary, it would act decisively.