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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 December 2007, 16:25 GMT
Bolivians approve draft charter
Bolivia's constituent assembly - 8/12/2007
More than one-third of assembly members boycotted the vote
A special Bolivian constituent assembly has approved a new draft constitution, despite a boycott by the main opposition party.

Bolivians will now have a chance to vote on the changes in a national referendum next year.

The 164 deputies present, out of the total of 255, took 13 hours to vote on each article of the new constitution.

The new charter would give more autonomy to indigenous people and allow consecutive presidential terms.

Capital argument

The draft constitution has proved contentious in Bolivia, with strikes and protests against it.

At least three people were killed in the run up to the vote in clashes between protesters and police in the central city of Sucre.

Residents of that town were angered at the absence from the constituent assembly's agenda of proposals to make Sucre the sole capital of the country, which it was before 1899.

Currently, the judiciary rests at Sucre while the legislative and executive branches of government remain at La Paz in the west.

The argument highlights the division between opponents of President Evo Morales, based in the richer east and his supporters in the poorer mountainous west of Bolivia.

Mr Morales proposed on Wednesday that he step down if "No" votes in the upcoming referendum exceed the vote which elected him in December 2005 - 54%.

Mr Morales - Bolivia's first indigenous president - says the reforms would give greater political representation to marginalised and indigenous groups - who make up 62% of the population.

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

Strikes to protest against the reform plans were held in six of Bolivia's nine provinces last month, attracting the strongest support in the gas-rich province of Santa Cruz - an opposition stronghold.

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Country profile: Bolivia
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