Bolivia leader may call snap poll

Evo Morales says he will hold elections if loses proposed referendum.

    Opponents of Morales say he is trying to impose authoritarian rule on the South American nation [EPA]
    The same rules would apply to all nine of Bolivia's governors, six of whom are his political foes.
    In the Telesur interview, Morales said he was about to send to congress draft legislation on the plebiscite to the country's governors, six of whom last month called their provinces on strike in protest against his proposed constitutional reforms.
    Social changes
    Morales, a leftist like his close ally Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, seeks social changes, including greater federal control of the country's revenues to redistribute wealth from the rich lowland provinces to their poorer highland neighbours.
    He has exerted greater state control over Bolivia's natural gas industry and other economic sectors, and officials have indicated a desire to nationalise the electricity and telecommunications industries.

    The six governors opposed to Morales are from Bolivia's wealthiest regions and balk at the idea of having the federal government reach into their pockets.
    Four of them recently visited the Organisation of American States in Washington to criticise the actions of Morales.
    New constitution
    A constituent assembly, packed with Morales supporters, recently approved the framework of a new constitution - which would also broaden Morales' powers - that the opposition calls illegal since it was voted by simple and not by two-thirds majority.
    The standoff between supporters and opponents of Morales has often been marked by violence.
    Earlier this month, three anti-government protesters were killed in the city of Sucre.
    Unwelcome flight
    In the latest sign of unrest, an angry mob of Bolivian civilians threw rocks at a Venezuelan military aircraft refuelling at an airport in the country's northeast, forcing the unwelcome aircraft to fly out of town, reports said on Thursday.
    The leader of a local civic group opposed to Morales said no Venezuelan military aircraft would be allowed to land in Riberalta, especially if they are carrying weapons.
    A Bolivian aviation source confirmed that the aircraft was a Hercules airplane belonging to the Venezuelan air force.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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