People have rallied across Bolivia to protest a new proposal by President Evo Morales’s party that could pave the way for him to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019.
The president of the Andean country had accepted defeat in a nationwide poll early last year, when 51 percent of voters rejected his bid to reform the constitution to end existing presidential term limits.
But his party, Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS), renewed the request and asked Bolivia’s highest court last month to rescind legal limits barring elected authorities from seeking re-election indefinitely. His party argued that the rules violated human rights.
People rallied in regional capitals across the country on Tuesday evening, accusing the president of trying to tighten his grip on power.
People also protested in Bolivia’s wealthy eastern province of Santa Cruz, where regional leaders have been campaigning for greater autonomy.
The protesters were carrying signs that read “Bolivia said ‘no’!” and waving the red, yellow, and green Bolivian flag.
“I have defended this constitution, which is a product of this fight (for democracy)… That is why I am defending my rights today,” said a protester.
But Bolivia’s Justice Minister Hector Arce has defended the move.
“Any constitutional reform needed can be implemented when the will of the people is at stake,” he has said.
Morales, the country’s first president of indigenous origin, who came to power in 2006, has said he would happily give up office but that his supporters are pushing for him to stay. His current term ends in January 2020.
Bolivia’s economy has posted steady growth under Morales’ leadership over the past decade.