Bolivia arrests US-backed rebel governor

Bolivian soldiers have arrested rebel governor and opposition leader Leopoldo Fernandez, who is accused of being behind Pando massacre.

The Amazonian Pando province near the Brazilian border was the site of clashes between the separatist anti-government faction and pro-government peasants.

Gov. Leopoldo Fernandez of Pando province is being charged with genocide in what President Evo Morales calls an ambush of his supporters last week that left at least 15 dead and 37 injured.

The Pando clashes last week caused army intervention and the order of martial law.

Soldiers for several days had been trying to arrest Fernandez for refusing to comply with the martial law order.

Fernandez is a major player in a long-running conflict between President Evo Morales and rebel governors.

His arrest was announced by Morales at a news conference on Tuesday, according to AP.

The rebel governors of the natural gas-rich lowland provinces are against Morales and his reformist plans that demand an equal share of the country's natural wealth among the nation.

Most of the country's vast natural gas deposits are in the lowland regions governed by the opposition who are mostly of European descent and don't want to share the natural wealth with the poor indigenous people of the highlands.

The separatists want more autonomy and a higher share of gas export revenues.

Morales has expelled the US ambassador to Bolivia Philip Goldberg, over his 'blatant interference' in the country's internal affairs.

Goldberg had earlier said Bolivia's state of political instability justifies Washington institutions' interference there.

Following his expulsion, Goldberg warned that the measure would lead to serious consequences for the Latin American country.

Several people have been killed and at least 100 wounded last week during clashes between the pro-Morales groups and the autonomy-seekers across Bolivia.

[Source: Press TV, Iran, 16Sep08]

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