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Annan 'encouraged' by Bolivia's decision to hold elections in December

Annan 'encouraged' by Bolivia's decision to hold elections in December

Heartened that the majority of Bolivia's political forces have worked together to find a democratic solution to the political impasse that has gripped the country for months, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he is "greatly encouraged" by the Parliament's decision to hold presidential and congressional elections in December.

In a statement issued by his spokesman in New York, Mr. Annan welcomed the decision by Bolivia's Parliament to hold elections for President, Vice-President, Parliament and Prefectos (Regional Governors) in December 2005, followed by a referendum on regional autonomy and elections for a Constituent Assembly in July 2006.

Mr. Annan added that an Electoral Needs Assessment Mission from the Department of Political Affairs would be visiting Bolivia in the coming days at the invitation of Bolivia's National Electoral Council.

"In this regard, electoral assistance was one of the recommendations made by Under-Secretary-General for Social and Economic Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo, as a result of his recent visit to Bolivia on the Secretary-General's behalf," he said.

The Secretary-General dispatched Mr. Ocampo last month to assess how the UN could be helpful to the Andean nation as it tackled the political transition and economic issues after former President Carlos Mesa relinquished the presidency, saying he could no longer lead Bolivia in the face of the unrest.