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Page last updated at 09:06 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 10:06 UK

Bolivian reforms 'deal reached'

A supporter of President Morales wearing a costume bearing the words "New Constitution"  on 20 October
Wrangling over the new constitution has gripped Bolivian for months

Bolivia's government and opposition say they have reached a deal on political reform after months of protests.

The deal, which was being debated in Congress, proposes holding a referendum on a new constitution in January and then new elections in December.

The accord includes an agreement by President Evo Morales to seek only one more five-year term, a key concession.

The move came as thousands of the president's supporters gathered outside Congress after a week-long march.

The proposed new charter sets out greater central control of the economy, greater distribution of wealth to Bolivia's indigenous majority and land reform.

Deadly violence

Opponents, based in the gas-rich lowland provinces, say it overlooks their demands for greater autonomy for their regions and concentrates too much power in the president's hands.

Bolivian President Evo Morales joins marchers in El Alto on 20 October
President Morales had hoped to run twice more for office

The arguments had spilled over into at times deadly violence in recent months as supporters and critics of the draft constitution took to the streets.

The deadlock between Mr Morales and his opponents in Congress was broken after he agreed to seek only one more five-year term.

The draft constitution would allow a president to seek two consecutive five-year terms, instead of the one-term limit.

Congress was debating late into the night to ratify the deal, allowing the constitutional referendum to proceed.

The vote would be held on 25 January, followed by elections for president, vice-president and Congress on 6 December, 2009.

Mr Morales easily won a recall referendum in August and his new charter is expected to be approved in the referendum.

But his narrow majority in Congress was not enough by itself to set the referendum date.


SEE ALSO
Morales presses opponents on deal
17 Sep 08 |  Americas
Neighbours back Bolivian leader
16 Sep 08 |  Americas
In Bolivia's opposition heartland
14 Sep 08 |  Americas
Move to tackle Bolivian turmoil
14 Sep 08 |  Americas
Anti-Morales protests hit Bolivia
10 Sep 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Bolivia
02 Oct 08 |  Country profiles

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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Daily Express Bolivia in constitution agreement - 25 hrs ago
CNN Bolivian rivals set date for key vote - 25 hrs ago
ONE News Morales to forge ahead with constitution - 29 hrs ago
Sydney Morning HeraldBolivia's Morales renounces third term - 30 hrs ago
Channel NewsAsia Bolivia, opposition agree on referendum, Morales term limit - 31 hrs ago
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