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Thousands of supporters of Bolivias ex-president Evo Morales flocked onto the streets of La Paz on Monday to demand the resignation of his interim replacement, as the influential Catholic Church called for a national dialogue to end more than a month of violent protests in which 23 people have died.

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Several thousand indigenous supporters of Morales marched peacefully through the city, calling on interim leader Jeanine Anez, who assumed office last week in what Morales claimed was a coup, to resign.

“Respect life! No to bullets!” read one banner held up by marchers, a reference to the killing of nine coca farmers by security forces in Cochabamba Friday, the deadliest clash of the month-long protests.

“Our sons are dying and we are demanding that justice be done,” said Angelina Charka, dressed in a traditional “pollera” skirt, told AFP.

Bishop Aurelio Pessoa, head of the Bolivian bishops conference, called for a national dialogue involving all parties “to bring peace to the country and to agree on the conditions of new presidential elections and the election of new members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.”

The European Union and the United Nations backed the Churchs call for round-table talks between Anezs interim government and opposition parties loyal to Morales.

UN special envoy Jean Arnault and an EU representative met in recent days with Anezs government and social organizations to prepare for talks.

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Anez on Sunday said “transparent elections” would be held “very soon” but she has held off on announcing a date until a new election authority is put in place, for which she needs the agreement of Morales majority Movement for Socialism party, MAS.

Protests continue

The protests that forced Morales to seek asylum in Mexico have continued, primarily around the central city of Cochabamba.

Nine people died in Fridays incident, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported, though the government has recognized only five deaths.

The government said the violent demonstrations roiling the country were slowing.

The number of trouble spots is “down by half,” interim Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said.

However, rural groups close to Morales have continued to press for Anezs resignation.

Groups in the staunchly pro-Morales city of El Alto called on Monday for a “siege of the city of La Paz” to force Anezs “immediate resignation.”

Roadblocks in several regions have begun to cause shortages of food and fuel in La Paz.

The government has responded by importing gasoline and diesel from neighboring Chile and Peru and sent 60 tons of meat and chicken to the city.

The violence has claimed at least 23 lives and left scores injured since late October, according to the Inter-American Commission on HumaRead More – Source