Bolivian President Carlos Mesa has announced measures designed to end weeks of protests in the South American nation.

The president announced late Thursday that a referendum on regional autonomy will be held on October 16. Mr. Mesa also called for the creation of an assembly to work on constitutional reform.

The announcement came after the Bolivian congress failed for the third time this week to reach a consensus on the issues.

The president also urged the nation to return to calm after two weeks of protests over Bolivia's energy policies. He called on the Roman Catholic Church to initiate dialogue to ease tensions.

Earlier Thursday, demonstrators massed in the streets in Bolivia's capital, La Paz, demanding the nationalization of the energy sector.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.