Bolivia's Congress has voted overwhelmingly to authorize the country's high court to investigate and try former President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and 15 members of his cabinet for the 2003 deaths of up to 80 demonstrators.

The legislature early Thursday approved the indictment - which includes charges of genocide - by a vote of 126-13.

The dozens of people killed by Bolivian security forces in the October 2003 demonstrations were protesting a government plan to export natural gas. Mr. Sanchez de Lozada was under attack for planning to export the gas through Chile, a traditional rival, and for not using the resource within Bolivia for the benefit of Bolivians.

The former president resigned as the protests raged, fleeing into exile to the Washington, D.C., area.

He was succeeded by his vice president, Carlos Mesa, who this year won a referendum on the gas export issue.