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BOLIVIA
Evo puts himself to the test
Latinamerica Press
5/12/2008
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Evo Morales announced a recall vote.

President Evo Morales announced a recall vote on May 8 for himself, his Vice President Álvaro García Linera and the nine departmental prefects, or governors, most of whom belong to opposition parties. It is scheduled for Aug. 10.

The recall vote, which was approved surprisingly by the opposition-controlled Senate, was first presented by Morales himself in December, and approved by the lower Deputies Chamber in January.

Morales, who said he was “very satisfied” with the approval, said that he would let Bolivians decide “who is fit to govern or not.” He said that the recall vote would deepen Bolivia’s democracy.

The Senate approved the recall vote four days after the eastern department of Santa Cruz voted on whether to declare autonomy measures from the central government in La Paz.

According to organizers of the Santa Cruz vote, 85 percent of voters approved greater autonomy from La Paz, but voter abstention reached 40 percent. Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said that the absentee rate showed “a lack of consensus on autonomy.”

Advocates for autonomy propose a deep administrative decentralization from La Paz, and say that the departmental autonomy outlined in Bolivia’s new draft charter, which was approved by a ruling-party controlled assembly, was insufficient.

Morales invited opposition prefects from the eastern departments of Santa Cruz, Beni, Pando and Tarija to participate in a joint-dialogue with the central government to discuss autonomy measures under the new constitution, which must still be put to a national referendum.

But the prefects refused to negotiate with the government until the other eastern departments hold autonomy referendums. Beni and Pando are scheduled to hold a vote on June 1, and Tarija on June 22.


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