Bolivia environment minister resigns amid historic drought

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 18, 2017 4:07 PM

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivian Environment and Water Minister Alexandra Moreira resigned on Wednesday before she was scheduled to testify in front of the country's legislative assembly about shortages of potable water amid the worst drought in 25 years.

Moreira, an ally of socialist President Evo Morales, has been harshly criticized for her handling of the water crisis by civil society groups, the opposition, and even ruling party lawmakers.

She had been expected to testify about a water rationing program that has been in place in hundreds of La Paz neighborhoods since November. The opposition called her resignation a "political game," claiming that she stepped down to avoid being censured by the legislative assembly.

The South American country declared a state of emergency due to the drought in November, after residents of El Alto, near La Paz, briefly held authorities with a local water-distribution company hostage to demand the government explain its plans to mitigate the shortage.

The drought has prompted protests in major cities and conflicts between miners and farmers over the use of aquifers.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Sandra Maler)