Referendum news
bolivia | by Miguel Centellas | 26 May, 2004 at 12:27 PM | comments (1) | trackback (0)

Decision reached by the Assamblea de la Cruceñidad; National Electoral Court upset at Mesa; yet another hydrocarbons minister resigns.

The Asamblea de la Cruceñidad met in the Santa Cruz' old Colonial Hall to reject the referendum & demand a law treating regional autonomies. The meeting & debate lasted over three hours. Santa Cruz regional leaders oppose the referendum because it was convened by executive decree, w/o a parliamentary law to stipulate the framework. They also demand the referendum be by-department, rather than one-man-one-vote. The assembly adopted a strategy w/ four fronts: 1) a legal battle before the Constitutional Tribunal (arguing the referendum is technically unconstitutional), 2) a parliamentary drive (from department deputies & senators) pushing for a referendum law, 3) a call for popular "vigil", and 4) demanding a separate referendum on regional autonomy.

The National Electoral Court (CNE) is upset at Mesa for overstepping his authority. The CNE is responsible to manage the logistics of Bolivian elections. As such, they're in charge of voter registration. Mesa unilaterally decreed an extension to voter registration for the referendum, opposed by the CNE, which argued a 15-day extension would eat up resources & time they need to prepare other phases of the referendum election — the first of its kind in Bolivia. After a public letter to the president, Mesa modified the voter registration date to close this Saturday (29 May).

In related news, yet another hydrocarbons minister (Xavier Nogales) resigned a few days ago. Mesa's still unable to find a fourth replacement for the post. It's known Mesa asked several people to fill the post, all of whom declined. Nogales didn't get alone well w/ much of Mesa's cabinet, and opposed some of Mesa's ideas for a hydrocarbons law. Nogales was the fourth minister to fill the post in Mesa's seven months in office.

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