Bolivia constitutional assembly approves new constitution

[JURIST] A majority of members of the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly [official website] on Sunday approved a new draft constitution [JURIST news archive] Sunday, despite a boycott by members of the main opposition party. Only 153 of 255 assembly members voted in favor of the new constitution, falling short of the two-thirds majority the opposition says is necessary to approve changes to the draft. The new constitution, supported by President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile], would gives the president more power over natural resources, collapse Bolivia's legislature into one body, and allow the president to seek election to two consecutive five-year terms. The Constitutional Assembly first gave preliminary approval [JURIST report] to the new constitution draft last month amid protests that the constitution gave the president indefinite power; the current constitution [text] prohibits a president from seeking election to consecutive terms. The new constitution must still be approved in a national referendum.

The Constitutional Assembly was suspended in September after violent protests by students and opposition parties, and governors from the country's six wealthiest provinces have consistently opposed the reforms [JURIST reports]. Opponents of the new constitution, including provincial governors and indigenous leaders, claimed that the vote violated a requirement that two-thirds of the assembly approve the changes. Last week, Morales proposed a national referendum [JURIST report] on whether he and the country's nine provincial governors should remain in office in response to accusations that the process of creating the new constitution has been illegitimate. AFP has more.

 

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