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Lawmakers call for vote on Bolivian constitution

Lawmakers call for vote on Bolivian constitution

Bolivian lawmakers, in a hastily held session, voted on Thursday to hold a nationwide referendum on a controversial new constitution being pushed by Bolivia's President Evo Morales.
The vote came as thousands of Morales supporters, including members of indigenous groups and miners, massed outside Congress urging lawmakers to approve the measure.
It effectively signaled the end of two months of talks between Morales and opposition groups who refuse to recognize the proposed charter.
Lawmakers from Morales' Movement to Socialism party voted to hold the referendum May 4.
The leftist leader's plans to overhaul Bolivia's constitution have sparked a protracted political crisis and reignited long-running conflicts between more indigenous Andean regions, the base of Morales' support, and wealthier lowland areas.
The vote in Congress was carried out in less than an hour with little debate and only a few opposition lawmakers present after Morales supporters blocked some from entering the session.
Morales was expected to sign the referendum into law yesterday, Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro Garcia said.
The draft charter, a key Morales project which he says will empower the poor Indian majority, was approved last year amid violent protests and a boycott by the opposition.
Critics who decry the project as a Morales power grab quickly denounced the congressional vote.
"They have approved a declaration that is going to turn Bolivians against each other," said Tito Hoz de Vila, a senator from the conservative Podemos party.
The proposed constitution has led four of the country's nine governors representing Bolivia's wealthiest provinces, home to the country's gas and petroleum, to seek greater autonomy from the central government.
Lawmakers also approved a measure on Thursday scrapping a planned vote by the eastern province of Santa Cruz, a Morales opposition stronghold, to declare autonomy.


Updated : 2021-04-15 00:10 GMT+08:00