Bolivians Protest Morales Bid to Extend Term Limits
LA PAZ (Reuters) - Thousands of Bolivians marched through streets across the Andean country on Tuesday to protest a new bid by leftist President Evo Morales to clear the way for him to run for a fourth term in 2019.
Morales had accepted defeat in early 2016 when 51 percent of Bolivian voters rejected his proposal to reform the constitution to end existing term limits in a referendum.
But last month, Morales’ Movement to Socialism (MAS) party asked the country’s highest court to rescind legal limits barring elected authorities from seeking re-election indefinitely, arguing that these violate human rights. Carrying signs that read “Bolivia said ‘no’!” and waving the red, yellow and green Bolivian flag, protesters said Morales wants to tighten his grip on power in the vein of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a leftist ally considered a dictator by the opposition.
“This is a political dictatorship... we’re not Venezuelan, we’re Bolivian,” Remigio Figueredo, a peasant leader said in La Paz’ San Francisco square, where thousands gathered at the same time a World Cup qualifying match between Bolivia and Uruguay was televised.
The Morales government dismissed the protests as political rallies disguised as a grassroots movement and said the right-wing opposition wants to ensure Morales cannot run in the 2019 race.