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Bolivia edges toward peace as torn country mourns its dead

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Bolivia, Peace, Dead

Bolivians have taken down roadblocks and struck peace deals after a month of protests and deadly clashes that have convulsed the nation after a disputed election in October and the resignation of long-term leader Evo Morales.

But fast-moving probes into Morales’ former supporters have threatened to reignite hostilities and derail deals with protest and union leaders aimed at bringing peace to the country.

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On Monday, anti-government protesters in Sacaba, a city in the mountainous region of Cochabamba that has been hit hard by violence, held a moment of silence for nine people killed in clashes with security forces this month.

“May there be peace in Bolivia and no more massacres,” said Gregoria Siles, an indigenous mother of five whose 26-year-old son was killed in the clashes, weeping as she showed a framed picture of him to journalists and others. “He was my only son.”

At least 33 people have been killed since the Oct. 20 vote, 30 since the interim president, Jeanine Áñez, took office nearly two weeks ago.

The deaths have raised pressure on Añez’s interim government, with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission visiting the country to investigate potential human rights violations.

Morales backers blame Añez for the violence and say her government is persecuting his supporters. Áñez and the military accuse Morales, now in Mexico, and his allies of stoking unrest in a bid to destabilize her government.

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But in most of Bolivia, signs pointed to the worst of the violence winding down as sparring politicians and protest leaders shifted their focus to new elections.

On Sunday, Áñez signed into law requiring new elections, a move that has the backing of Morales’ leftist party.

“We are returning to normal after something so hard and so dramatic, but I think we are moving forward,” Áñez said.

Source: Reuters

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