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Bolivia president refuses to recognize electoral court referendum decision

[JURIST] The administration of Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] is refusing to recognize a National Electoral Court (CNE) [official website] decision suspending a constitutional referendum set for Dec. 7 [JURIST report]. Nationalization Minister Hector Arce said [ABI report, in Spanish] Monday that letters sent to Morales by CNE President Jose Luis Exeni purporting to suspend the referendum have no legal effect. The administration ratified Morales' decree [text] scheduling the referendum, and demanded CNE compliance. Sacha Llorenti, deputy minister for social movements, defended Morales' decree as "respond[ing] not only to a historical necessity for the Bolivian people to decide if it wants a new Constitution, but ... also based on constitutional principles and laws of the Republic." [sic] AP has more. From La Paz, La Razon has local coverage, in Spanish.

If approved, the proposed constitutional amendments would distribute more of Bolivia's land and energy resource income to the country's indigenous population. Morales said that last month's national referendum permitting him to retain his office provided the authority for him to push for the constitutional changes. Several of the provincial governors also confirmed by the referendum oppose the plan [JURIST reports] and said they would not hold the December vote in their regions, leading to Monday's CNE decision. The 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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