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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 13:00 GMT
Bolivia head set for vote gamble
Bolivian President Evo Morales makes an address on 5 December
Mr Morales said he was ready to be judged by the people
Bolivian President Evo Morales has called for a referendum on whether he and the country's nine regional governors should stay in office.

Mr Morales said the vote should provide the final word on his reform programme, which several governors oppose.

Bolivia has seen violent protests for and against a draft new constitution.

Mr Morales says the reforms will give poor Bolivians a say in running the country but his opponents argue they give the government too much power.

Speaking on television, Mr Morales said he would be sending a proposal to Congress to put his leadership to the popular vote.

He challenged the regional governors to submit their mandates to a referendum as well.

"If the people say 'Evo's going', I don't have a problem with that. Let the people say who goes and who stays," Mr Morales said.

"If they are democrats, let's bet on democracy."

Strikes

At least three regional governors have indicated they would be ready for a referendum but opposition leaders have voiced scepticism at the move, saying President Morales had made a similar proposal in January.

Bolivia has seen widespread and often violent protests and strikes over the proposed constitutional changes.

A constituent assembly has been drafting the new constitution and has until 14 December to approve the charter in full.

It would then be put to a referendum next year.

Government supporters say the changes would give greater political representation to marginalised and indigenous groups.

But the opposition have criticised the plans for allowing the president to seek re-election indefinitely.



SEE ALSO
Bolivian strikers vow more action
29 Nov 07 |  Americas
Fuelling Bolivia's crisis?
08 Nov 07 |  Business
Protesters attack bars in Bolivia
17 Oct 07 |  Americas
Morales defends Bolivia changes
22 Aug 07 |  Americas
Country profile: Bolivia
12 May 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bolivia
27 Jun 07 |  Country profiles

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