Bolivia rivals eye compromise after talks

Other News Materials 14 September 2008 02:05 (UTC +04:00)

Bolivia's government and a main opposition leader voiced hope for reconciliation on Saturday after overnight talks to end a wave of political violence that killed at least 17 people and prompted martial law.

Leftist President Evo Morales called the talks to defuse a bitter power struggle with governors who oppose his socialist reforms and want a bigger share of energy revenue.

The government of the poor South American country declared martial law late on Friday in the remote Amazon region of Pando, scene of the worst violence. Morales said on Saturday he saw no reason to expand the martial law decree beyond Pando.

A sailor and a civilian were killed in fighting when the army took control of the airport in Pando's capital, Cobija, from protesters, Cabinet minister Ramon Quintana said on Saturday.

"Today the armed forces will have to use urban combat tactics to remove these armed groups" of protesters, Quintana said from Cobija.

The governor of natural gas-rich Tarija province, Mario Cossio, held talks at the presidential palace with the country's vice president into the early hours.

"We have fulfilled the objective of opening talks, and let's hope that in the coming hours this turns into a sustained process of dialogue which results in a pact to resolve problems in the framework of national reconciliation," Cossio said, according to Reuters .