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Morales offers flexibility on constitution after losing Senate

Morales offers flexibility on constitution after losing Senate

President Evo Morales eased his conditions for approving a new constitution after his party lost control of the Senate, saying he would call a referendum on issues that cannot be resolved in the Constituent Assembly.
Delegates to the popularly elected assembly, which convened in August, have been deadlocked over whether individual articles of the proposed constitution must be approved in the body by a simple majority or a two-thirds vote.
Morales' supporters, who hold 137 of the assembly's 255 seats, previously insisted a simple majority was enough. But opposition delegates disagreed, fearful of radical changes by Morales' leftist political movement.
The delegates have until Aug. 6 to come up with a new constitution, which must then be approved by a two-thirds majority in a nationwide vote.
Morales, who since taking office a year ago has sought greater power for Bolivia's poor and traditionally downtrodden Indian majority, said that any articles that are not approved by a two-thirds majority of delegates by early July would put to a popular vote.
"Let the people decide with their vote, without fear," Morales said Thursday.
On Wednesday night, the Senate broke a deadlock and elected as its president a member of the opposition, unseating a close ally of Morales.
The election of Jose Villavicencio of the National Unity party, by a 15-12 vote, strips Morales' allies of the ability to set the legislative agenda in Congress's upper house.
The leader of the main opposition party Podemos, former President Jorge Quiroga, praised Morales' announcement.
"It's an important advance. It's a sign of flexibility," he said.
Podemos has 13 senators. Villavicencio's is the National Unity party's lone senator and the National Revolutionary Movement has one senator. The rest belong to Morales' Movement Toward Socialism.


Updated : 2021-05-17 02:32 GMT+08:00