The Guardian 13 July, 2005

Bolivia will celebrate early elections

Bolivia is to hold early elections in December, as convened by Congress, which approved several reforms to the Constitution including a reduction of its mandate, thus opening the door to a lasting solution to the country's social and political crisis.

The Bolivian legislature also approved the convening of a constituent assembly and a referendum on autonomous governments for July of next year after arduous negotiations with political groups represented in Congress.

The general elections are scheduled for the first Sunday in December, and voters will choose a President, Vice-President, senators and deputies for the executive and legislative periods of 2006 to 2011, a unanimous demand of all of the country's sectors.

The determinations by Congress are the result of nearly a month of negotiations by political parties with social and regional sectors demanding a total change of the executive and legislative branches of government, two years before the constitutional period expires in 2007.

The first decision was made by the Chamber of Deputies, which approved a Constitutional reform that requires the election of a new President and Vice-President after the resignation by those two figures led to power being handed over to the head of the Supreme Court on June 9.

Expecting the changes to be ratified by the Senate, deputies also authorised a bill instituting the popular vote for the election of governors for the country's nine provinces, eliminating the current provision for presidential appointments to those posts.

With this reform, President Eduardo Rodríguez will decide whether or not provincial elections will be held on August 12, as is expected, or if they will be postponed to a future date.

Immediately after the Chamber of Deputies approved the first reforms, an early morning joint session with the Senate approved regulations to establish the constituent assembly and a referendum on creating autonomous governments in Bolivia.


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