The Islamic Post Blog

United Nations Lauds Bolivians For High Turn-Out During Peaceful Constitutional Referendum by Khalida
February 2, 2009, 11:11 am
Filed under: February Volume I- 2009, Latino/Caribe | Tags:

By Safiya A. Khafidh

Islamic Post Staff Writer

The new constitution presented by the government of Bolivian President Evo Morales passed late last month by a vote of 60%, signifying the great number of people who approve the new constitution.
“Here the colonial state ends and external and internal colonialism end,” said the leftist president. The vote allows him to run for re-election and remain in power till 2014.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent congratulations to the people of Bolivia for taking part in the national referendum –that approved the amendment of the country’s Constitution– in a peaceful manner, after the violence that has plagued the country from reactionary provinces.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he was following with great interest the political developments in the Andean country, where the referendum included the constitutional expansion of indigenous people’s rights, as well as an extension of presidential term limits.
The key constitutional changes include presidents being allowed two consecutive five-year terms; recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples, and setting aside congressional seats for them: state control of all gas, oil and mineral reserves: appointment of high court judges rather than election of the same; the prohibition of sexual discrimination; the guaranteed freedom of religion; and self-rule for the indigenous tribes who live on traditional lands.
However, the richer provinces in eastern Bolivia: Santa Cruz, Tarija, Beni and Pondo –areas considered violent hotbeds of opposition led by the state governors of those areas– prefer their own increased autonomy, along with more authority over the natural resources mentioned above.
Nevertheless, Mr. Ban Ki-moon applauded the calm atmosphere while the polls were open, and the high level of participation, as a demonstration of civic responsibility.
“The Secretary-General exhorts all political leaders in Bolivia to work together henceforth to build a prosperous and inclusive future for their country,” the statement read, adding that the UN will continue to assist the Government and the people of Bolivia face future challenges.
He also recognized the work of the National Electoral Court of Bolivia in the organization of, what he called, “this important exercise in democracy.”
-Sources: United Nations, News Agencies


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