Monday, December 10, 2007

Bolivian Lawmakers Approve Reforms

Bolivian lawmakers approve reforms


ORURU--Bolivian lawmakers yesterday approved a controversial overhaul of their constitution that, if passed by referendum, will give leftwing President Evo Morales sweeping new powers and bolster the rights of the indigenous majority.

A constituent assembly stacked with Morales supporters and sitting in the Andean town of Oruru — a pro-Morales stronghold — backed the 408 reforms amid a boycott by the main opposition party. "It is a source of great happiness for me and for all the popular movement, the peasants’ and workers’ movement," Morales said.

The run-up to the vote was bloody, with at least three killed in clashes between protesters and police two weeks ago.

Six wealthy provinces held massive strikes as opponents feared the reforms would usher in a leftist regime similar to the one Morales’ friend and ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is struggling to establish.

"The text of the new constitution is approved," a representative of the socialist MAS party, Carlos Romero, said.

The approval came after a marathon 15-hour session and with the backing of allied minor parties. —AFP.

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