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Bolivia voters in two more states approve autonomy measures in referenda

[JURIST] Voters in two rural Bolivian states Sunday voted in favor of autonomy measures [ABI provisional poll results, in Spanish; IPS report] that would allow the provincial governments to form legislatures, gather police forces and become more independent of national control. Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] characterized the referenda in Beni and Pando as an illegal and unconstitutional effort to undo reforms aiding the nation's historically disenfranchised Indian population. State leaders said the vote showed a movement away from Morales' leftist and centralized government policies. The provisional poll results show that about 80 percent of Beni voters and 86 percent of Panto voters supported the changes. AP has more.

In 2006, governors from six of Bolivia's nine states vowed to break off relations with Morales following a bid to give his leftist party more power [JURIST reports] to rewrite the Bolivian constitution [JURIST news archive]. A proposed national referendum on the new draft constitution, which had originally been blocked [JURIST report], was narrowly approved in February by the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly [official website, in Spanish] amid reports that Morales supporters prevented many draft opponents from entering the constitutional building and participating in the vote. In May, the Bolivian National Congress [official website, in Spanish] voted to hold a national referendum [JURIST report] on Morales and 10 other officials within 90 days, in which the officials must win more than 53.74 percent of the vote to keep their positions. Last month, voters in the Bolivian state of Santa Cruz also approved [JURIST report] an autonomy referendum.

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