Bolivia congress passes election law after Morales hunger strike

[JURIST] The Bolivian National Congress [official website, in Spanish] approved [press release, in Spanish] Thursday the general framework of the electoral law [text, in Spanish] that the new Bolivian constitution [JURIST report] mandated within 60 days of its adoption. Earlier Thursday, Bolivian President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile] declared himself on hunger strike [YouTube video, in Spanish; AP report] until congress passed the law since the 60-day period decreed in the constitution had lapsed Wednesday. The law, which will regulate election of the congress, president, and vice-president of Bolivia, also seeks to adopt remedial actions for the disenfranchisement of indigenous groups and women from the political system. Under the proposed law, congressional candidate rosters must feature alternating male and female candidates, and Bolivians living outside the country would be entitled to vote. Specific details of the law are yet to be agreed upon as the opposition demands further changes to address their concerns. Senate [official website, in Spanish] opposition members have strongly objected to the proposed 14 congressional seats reserved for indigenous groups and the referendum on autonomous regions. In addition, they demanded a revision of the electoral roll to ensure transparency in the upcoming elections. General elections must now be held on December 6 of this year, and regional elections on April 4, 2010.

In February, Bolivia's new constitution went into effect, after being approved [JURIST reports] by national referendum in January. Other measures adopted by the constitution include land reform and regulations [JURIST report] on single farms to limit acreage to 12,400 and placing economic and social requirements on them.

 

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