Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bolivia's Constitution in the Hands of Legislature

LA PAZ (digitalwarriormedia) At 9:41 p.m. on Friday evening, Silvia Lazarte, President of Bolivia's Constituent Assembly, officially handed over the text of the nation's new constitution to National Congress President and Vice President of Bolivia, Alvaro Garcia Linera.

A ceremony took place at the Central Bank of Bolivia, allowing the Constituent Assembly to meet their deadline of December 14th.

Adopted by 164 Constituent delegates on December 9th, the constitutional text recognizes the existence of 36 indigenous nations as well as Afro-Bolivians for the first time in Bolivia's history. The document declares Bolivia an inclusive, social, multi-national and democratic nation that has a mixed economy.

Representatives from the opposition party PODEMOS tried to challenge last night’s ceremony with posters and slogans that denounced the new constitution and alleged that it was illegal, but eventually they were required to leave the premises.

In his speech before representatives from Bolivia's nine departments, Vice President Garcia Linera addressed opposition claims that the new document is illegal. He stated that the new constitution and the actions of the Assembly were within the framework of the law which enabled the mandate to be completed.

He offered his congratulations to the Assembly for its hard-work and success in overcoming the many obstacles that attempted to derail them from bringing about a document that is historic for its inclusiveness of all Bolivians.

Garcia Linera called on the four political parties represented in Parliament (MAS, PODEMOS, UN and MNR) to work for the people, without betraying the process and approve the law on Referendum Dirimidor.

The legislature must still approve a referendum bill on Article 398 that would limit the landholdings of large private estates (latifundas). Through a referendum vote, Bolivia's citizens will determine the result of an issue that was unable to pass with two-thirds approval at the Assembly deliberations held last weekend near Oruro.

Now, with the document officially handed over to the National Congress, President Morales will call for a constitutional referendum so that the people of Bolivia can vote to adopt or reject the new constitution.

On Saturday, thousands of demonstrators will celebrate in La Paz as well as in other parts of the country in support of the Constitution. But the day has also been designated as a deadline for opposition prefects to further their quest for regional autonomy.

In public ceremonies held in the departments of Santa Cruz, Pando, Tarija and Cochabamba, regional officials are expected to hand over statutes that will define the new structure and powers of regional governments separate from those of the nation.

Defense Minister Walker San Miguel said the army had been put on alert in case of disturbances over the weekend and 400 extra police officers have also been sent to Santa Cruz in order to protect public and private assets.

Photo from: ABI

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