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Bolivia president sets date for constitutional referendum

[JURIST] Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] announced Thursday that a national referendum on his proposed reforms to the country's constitution will be held on December 7. If approved, the reforms would distribute more of Bolivia's land and energy resource income to the country's indigenous population. Morales said that a national referendum which permitted him to retain his office earlier this month provided the mandate for him to push for the changes, but several of the provincial governors also confirmed by the referendum oppose the plan [JURIST reports] and have said they will not hold the December vote in their regions. According to a Thursday release [text, in Spanish], Morales is considering an offer by the Organization of American States (OAS) [official website] to mediate the conflict. AFP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

In May, the Bolivian National Congress [official website, in Spanish] approved the referendum on Morales' leadership, which he personally proposed [JURIST reports] last December in order to legitimize his campaign for the constitutional changes. In 2006, governors from six of Bolivia's nine states vowed to break off relations with Morales following the 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 to participate in the vote.

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