Bolivia constitution reforms called illegitimate, may lead to violence

Bolivia constitution reforms called illegitimate, may lead to violence

[JURIST] Several Bolivian opposition groups have said that the nation's new constitution is illegitimate, alleging that supporters of Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website, in Spanish; BBC profile] used legal loopholes to rush its approval. An International Crisis Group [official website] report [PDF text; ICG press release] released Thursday said the opposition may react to the constitutional reform attempts through violence. The opposition consists mainly of Unidad Nacional (UN), Poder Democratico y Social (PODEMOS), and Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) [official websites, in Spanish], who say the approval vote was mostly restricted to those in Morales' Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS) [party website, in Spanish]. The government has said that the constitution was approved by a majority of elected delegates. UPI has more.

Bolivia's current constitution [text, in Spanish] prohibits a president from seeking election to consecutive terms. The new constitution, which gained preliminary approval by the Constitutional Assembly [JURIST report] in November 2007, allows the president to seek election to two consecutive five-year terms, gives the president more power over natural resources, and consolidates Bolivia's legislature. In March, Bolivia's National Electoral Court [official website] blocked a scheduled May 4 referendum [JURIST report] on the new constitution after finding that it failed to satisfy a constitutional provision requiring a national vote to be held within 90 days of congressional approval of new legislation. The referendum had been narrowly approved [JURIST report] in the National Congress [official website, in Spanish] earlier in the month.