Latin America & Caribbean

Vote may allow Bolivia president to seek re-election

A poster of Bolivia's President Evo Morales is seen displayed at the National Congress building in La Paz September 25, 2015. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Evo Morales is one of the most popular presidents in the world, with popularity ratings of more than 70%

Bolivia's Congress has voted to amend the constitution to allow the country's President Evo Morales to run for re-election again in five years' time.

The vote went through by a two-thirds majority in a congress dominated by his supporters.

He has been in power since 2005, but the amendment discounts his first two terms, as those elections took place under a previous constitution.

The amendment is to go to a national referendum next February.

Speaking in New York where he has been participating in a meeting of the UN General Assembly, Mr Morales said he had been invited to extend his term in office.

"It's the feeling of the people, even of Congress; I understand perfectly. I'm not trying to stay in power forever. I also want to tell you, some have said, 'Evo forever'."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Evo Morales's supporters carried posters saying "Yes" to his re-election

Mr Morales has said that he wants to complete his government's "Patriotic Agenda" by taking action on "13 pillars of action" by 2025.

They include the eradication of extreme poverty, ensuring health and education for all and ensuring Bolivia has an independent financial system and national control over food production and the exploitation of national resources.

Above all, Mr Morales has put at the centre of national life the culture and ideology of the Andean indigenous majority - he himself is an Aymaran indian.

He won a landslide victory in elections last year and his party, the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) dominates Congress.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption During the debate on the constitutional amendment, opposition congressmen staged a protest in the Congress.

Opponents of Mr Morales have protested that the constitutional reform is an attempt by the government to undermine democracy.

There were protests in Congress on Saturday from opposition parties during the debates in the lead-up to the vote.

Mr Morales is one of the most popular presidents in the world, with ratings standing at over 70%.

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