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Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 18:56 UK

Morales sets Bolivia recall date

President Evo Morales signs the referendum bill into law on 12 May
Mr Morales first proposed a referendum last December

Bolivian President Evo Morales has set 10 August as the date for a recall referendum on whether he and regional governors should stay in office.

Mr Morales, who has more than two years left in office, said people would judge the work of their politicians.

He is embroiled in a political battle with regional governors over his attempts to reform the constitution.

Mr Morales wants wealthier eastern regions to give more to the poorer west, home to many of his backers.

Mr Morales first proposed holding a nationwide recall referendum last year in his ongoing battle with opposition governors.

The idea resurfaced last week in the wake of an unofficial referendum on autonomy held by the resource-rich region of Santa Cruz - a vote Mr Morales dismissed as illegal.

The Santa Cruz result apparently boosted opposition hopes of defeating Mr Morales, correspondents say.

Last Thursday, the opposition-dominated Senate passed a bill ordering elections to be held within 90 days on the mandates of the president, the vice-president and nine regional governors.

Observers

On Monday, Mr Morales signed the bill into law, setting 10 August as the election date.

"For the first time in Bolivian history, the people will not only have the right to choose but also to decide if the authorities are failing them," Mr Morales said.

He called on the National Electoral Court to guarantee the transparency of the referendum and urged foreign election observer groups to help monitor the votes.

The terms of President Morales and Vice-President Alvaro Garcia Linera formally expire in January 2011.

They will lose the recall referendum if more than 53.74% of voters - their margin of support at the December 2005 election - reject them.

In that case, a new general election will be held.

Regional governors will be subjected to the same test.




SEE ALSO
Morales dismisses autonomy vote
05 May 08 |  Americas
Bolivia poll sparks crisis fears
30 Apr 08 |  Americas
Setback to Bolivian reform plan
08 Mar 08 |  Americas
Battle for Bolivia's heart
08 Sep 07 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Bolivia
22 Apr 08 |  Country profiles


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