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.

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