Bolivian news roundup
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 21 Jan, 2004 at 04:57 AM | comments (0) | trackback (0)

Bolivia's parliament has gotten together, actually making progress on various issues — most notably changes to 14 articles of the constitution. Among the changes is a notable change to the Article 1 calling Bolivia's democracy "representative & participative." Other changes allow for a Constituent Assembly and the use of public referendums.

The progress was made possible by a dramatic change in attitude from MAS (Movement Towards Socialism), which decided to drop its insistence on a single, all-inclusive bill and accept piecemeal legislation. Congress should vote on the issues in the next week.

Still up in the air is the election of several National Electoral Court (CNE) vocales, to bring the body up to quorum before the 28 March gas referendum. Interestingly, there's broad agreements between MAS, MIR, and MNR on voting. The hold-out party is NFR, which insists that all current vocales step down. Still, the MAS-MIR-MNR coalition means a two-thirds legislative supermajority.

Election of CNE vocales is crucial, since this body oversees all Bolivian elections. Thus, they'll organize & monitor the up-coming gas referendum. The CNE's currently below quorum, and can't legally administer any election until its empty seats are filled by parliament.

Meanwhile, Ángel Durán, leader of the Movimiento Sin Tierra, recently announced that the group would meet to decide whether it would continue to seize lands (which is illegal) or sit down and begin negotiations w/ Mesa's government. Accusations from various sectors that MST is politically destabilizing Bolivia seem to have affected Durán. It's unclear, however, whether the position for dialogue will win out in the upcoming MST congress.

Also on the sidelines is the issue of the responsibility trial against Goni & his cabinet. The Attorney General has handed the issue over to the Supreme Court, which insists the case be more thoroughly investigated first. Left forgotten, is the parallel trial against Quispe, Solares, de la Cruz, and Evo Morales for their role in October.

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"President Mesa finally announced the questions for the gas referendum. And although there are five of them, they seem rather vague & almost destined to win a "yes" vote by their very wording (which, I'm sure, was the point). But. Despite that, the questions are unclear as to what they..."
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