Thursday, May 08, 2008

Putting it all out there with a vote of confidence in Bolivia

LA PAZ, Bolivia (DigitalWarriorMedia) -- President Evo Morales agreed Thursday to stand for election in a nationwide recall vote, gambling that Bolivians will re-elect him after just two years in office.

"We politicians can't forget that the people decide the destiny of the country, the presidents, the prefects," he said in a televised address from the presidential palace in La Paz.

"Democracy is to be defined at the ballot box, not through violence," he said. "How many times have we said yes to the ballot box, no to the arms?"

The announcement came shortly after the National Congress passed the call for a vote, and a few days after a referendum on autonomy passed in Santa Cruz, the nation's richest of nine departments.Congress on Thursday passed a bill ordering the recall be held within 90 days. Morales said he will sign the measure.

Morales rejected the Santa Cruz vote as illegal, and therefore nonbinding, and criticized its supporters as opposed to his plan to share the wealth of their communities with the rest of the country, which is the poorest in Latin America.

The legislation would require Morales and Bolivia's nine state governors to win both more votes and a greater percentage of support than they did on a 2005 ballot. If they fall short, they will have to run again in a new general election.

Bolivian state governors did not immediately react to the president's announcement, but most have previously said they would participate in such a vote.

Morales first proposed a nationwide recall referendum to shore up support last December amid a fierce political battle over his draft constitution, which would give Bolivia's long-oppressed indigenous population greater power.

The idea seemed to have been forgotten until Thursday, when an opposition-controlled Senate revived it. The tactic come on the heel of Vice-resident Garcia's meeting with the United States Bolivian Ambassador.

Morales, as Bolivia's first indigenous president, would face recall at arguably the most difficult moment of his young presidency of 2 years, 3 months and 15 days.

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