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Bolivia constitutional assembly approves new constitution

[JURIST] A majority of members of the Bolivian Constitutional Assembly [official website] on Sunday approved a new draft constitution [JURIST news archive] Sunday, despite a boycott by members of the main opposition party. Only 153 of 255 assembly members voted in favor of the new constitution, falling short of the two-thirds majority the opposition says is necessary to approve changes to the draft. The new constitution, supported by President Evo Morales [official website; BBC profile], would gives the president more power over natural resources, collapse Bolivia's legislature into one body, and allow the president to seek election to two consecutive five-year terms. The Constitutional Assembly first gave preliminary approval [JURIST report] to the new constitution draft last month amid protests that the constitution gave the president indefinite power; the current constitution [text] prohibits a president from seeking election to consecutive terms. The new constitution must still be approved in a national referendum.

The Constitutional Assembly was suspended in September after violent protests by students and opposition parties, and governors from the country's six wealthiest provinces have consistently opposed the reforms [JURIST reports]. Opponents of the new constitution, including provincial governors and indigenous leaders, claimed that the vote violated a requirement that two-thirds of the assembly approve the changes. Last week, Morales proposed a national referendum [JURIST report] on whether he and the country's nine provincial governors should remain in office in response to accusations that the process of creating the new constitution has been illegitimate. AFP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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