Morales hails 'equality' referendum

Voters expected to back constitutional changes giving indigenous people more power.

    Morales said the constitutional changes would give all Bolivians "equal opportunities" [AFP]

    Morales won 67 per cent of the vote in a recall referendum in August 2008.

    "Evo Morales will win, because he is a good president and he is helping children and old people. So we will vote 'yes'," Norita Manami, a Morales supporter, said.

    State control

    The proposals include a larger state role in the economy, grants of self-rule to 36 distinct indigenous "nations" and a December general election, in which Morales could run for another five-year term.

    Key proposals

    Elections: Presidents would be allowed two consecutives five-year terms
    Indigenous rights: Recognises self-determination of 36 'nations' and sets aside seats in Congress
    Natural resources:
    State control for all gas, oil and mineral reserves
    Local autonomy: Authorises state assemblies that control local issues and self-rule for indigenous groups on traditional lands
    Justice: High court judges to be elected rather than appointed
    Equality: Prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation and guarantees freedom of religion

    Voters will also decide whether future land ownership should be capped at 5,000 or 10,000 hectares. The state could seize land that does not perform a "social function" or was fraudulently obtained.

    But despite strong support for Morales, the vote could prove divisive with the country split along geographic, racial and class lines.

    The opposition, led by state governors in the more prosperous east, has objected to the proposed changes.

    Many critics have accused Morales of harming the economy through the nationalisation of a number of businesses.

    "This is a false referendum, it does not have the participation nor the support of half of the Bolivian people. We people from the east [the lowlands of Bolivia] don't expect anything good from it," Percy Ruiz, an opponent of Morales, said.

    However, it allowed the referendum to go ahead after Morales agreed to stand for only one additional term and grant greater autonomy to the regions.

    Nearly four million Bolivians are registered to vote in a referendum which is to be monitored by international observers.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.