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Bolivian President Insists He Will Not Resign Despite Rioting

Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada says he will not resign, despite two days of rioting that have claimed at least 28 lives near La Paz, the capital.

In a defiant televised speech Monday, Mr. Sanchez de Lozada said he will stand firm in the face of demonstrators angry over his government's natural gas export plans. He insisted the government will defeat those who he said want to "eliminate and disintegrate" Bolivia.

Labor unions and indigenous groups say the gas export plan would mostly benefit large foreign companies and not Bolivia's impoverished majority.

Earlier in the day, President Sanchez de Lozada suspended the plan, saying Bolivians should have a chance to voice their opinions.

Observers say the program has become a lightning rod for groups angry over the president's policies.

On Monday, at least four people died in fighting between protestors and soldiers around La Paz, the capital. Much of the fighting took place in El Alto, a working-class suburb of La Paz, the capital. Meanwhile, demonstrations took place in La Paz and other cities.

At least 42 people have been killed since a series of wider protests against the president's policies began three weeks ago.

Also, Vice-President Carlos Mesa broke ranks with Mr. Sanchez de Lozada over his handling of the crisis.