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BOLIVIA
Morales shines in recall vote
8/14/2008
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Voters overwhelmingly back president in referendum.

President Evo Morales received resounding support from Bolivian voters in an Aug. 10 recall vote. Morales and his Vice President Álvaro García Linera won 65 percent support, according to unofficial results, 12 more percentage points higher than in December 2005 general elections.

The Senate approved the referendum on May 8, which was Morales initiative. Morales highest support was in the western departments, a bastion of the leaders followers, but he said the victory will help forge unity in Bolivia, where violence has raged over divides in the eastern and western departments.

“The peoples participation will unite different sectors of the countryside and city, of the east and the west,” he said.
Several eastern departments, where Bolivias rich hydrocarbon reserves are located, voted in favor of autonomy earlier this year. The votes followed the approval of a draft charter.

The draft charter faces approval in a nationwide referendum. Morales said the prefects who were ratified in the same Aug. 10 vote in the eastern Beni, Pando, Santa Cruz and Tarija departments must “work together for their departments, but also for Bolivia.” The prefect of the highland Potosi department was also confirmed.

“The participation of the Bolivian people in the recall vote obligates us to work together, to have a dialogue and to pursue the unity and dignity of Bolivians,” he said.

The prefects of the highland departments of Cochabamba, La Paz and Oruro were not approved in the recent vote. Sabina Cuéllar the prefect of Sucre, was not put to the recall vote because he was elected on June 29.

Centralism vs. autonomy
Rubén Costas, the ratified prefect of the Santa Cruz department, said that the autonomy process was advancing with the creation of a departmental tax agency and a security agency. He also called an election for Santa Cruz residents to elect new officials on Aug. 14.

Costas warned that resistance against Morales reforms, such as the nationalization of the countrys hydrocarbons and land redistribution, will continue. Costas said that the constitution will put the government down a “dead-end street.”

Manfred Reyes Villa, the opposition prefect from Cochabamba, who was defeated in the vote, refused to recognize the results and resigned. Sixty-two percent of voters in that department rejected him.

“Its not about staying in ones post, but how to respect the law,” he told the press. He said the vote was illegal and said he would not resign. — Latinamerica Press.


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