In recent years, an increasingly
divisive conflict has been the Bolivian Gas War; a dispute over
the exploitation of Bolivia's large natural gas reserves in the
south of the country.
Strikes and blockades first erupted in September
2003, with several deaths and dozens of injuries in confrontations
with the armed forces. Sánchez de Lozada resigned under
pressure from protesters, fleeing the country to the United States,
but not before formally handing over the presidency to his vice-president,
Carlos Mesa, in order to preserve the Constitutional order. Mesa
was inaugurated and promised to address the demands of the protesting
majority. However, he resigned on 7 March 2005 in face of mounting
protests, claiming he was unable to continue governing the country,
but with promises of support, he withdrew his resignation.
In May-June 2005, Mesa again tendered his resignation
and in a hastily convened session of the Parliament in Sucre,
Mr.Eduardo Rodríguez Veltzé - the President of the
Supreme Court - became president on the night of June 9, 2005.
Political agreements were reached to modify the Constitution,
and allow the full renewal of Parliament, simultaneously with
a Presidential Election, on December 4, 2005.