Bolivia considering a “supreme decree” to call for fresh presidential elections

Latin America
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Bolivia considering a “supreme decree” to call for fresh presidential elections

Tuesday, November 19th 2019 – 09:01 UTC

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Jerjes Justiniano, interim presidential minister, said the government wants to appoint a new Supreme Electoral Court, but the move is being blocked by MAS Jerjes Justiniano, interim presidential minister, said the government wants to appoint a new Supreme Electoral Court, but the move is being blocked by MAS

Bolivia’s interim government is looking to conduct presidential elections as the country is locked in political unrest after the resignation of Evo Morales, an official said on Monday. A possible option would be to issue a “supreme decree”, which bypasses Congress.

Jerjes Justiniano, interim presidential minister, said the government wants to appoint new members to the Supreme Electoral Court, but the move is being blocked by the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party, which holds a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly.

“Unfortunately, no progress has been made with the MAS bloc,” said Justiniano. “Without them, it is impossible to take this legislative step. We are looking at other mechanisms that can lead to elections being held as soon as possible.”

One possible solution put forward by former Bolivian President Jorge Quiroga is to bypass legislation and issue a “supreme decree.”

Bolivia has been plagued by anti-government protests since Morales supposedly won a fourth presidential term in the Oct. 20 elections. The opposition refused to recognize his victory, claiming fraud, which was confirmed by an audit from the Organization of American States, OAS.

Morales reluctantly accepted the OAS results to which he had previously agreed to honor, and said he was prepared to call fresh elections. However on November 10, Morales announced his resignation after the military suggested his departure given the social upheaval that his intentions to remain in office had triggered, and the fact that several regional police forces had refused to follow his orders.

In effect although he was not entitled to a new reelection, according to the Bolivian constitution, Morales manipulated the Supreme Court and the Electoral Court, packed with his supporters to open the way for his fourth consecutive mandate. This despite a 2016 referendum which had overwhelmingly rejected his ambition. Morales convinced both courts that his “political rights” would be abused and ignored if he could not run for a fourth consecutive mandate.

Thus the October 20 election was held with the background of all these questionings, plus multitude of irregularities during the vote counting, later confirmed by the OAS audit including tampering with the computer system.

Morales then left with his girlfriend for Mexico, which offered him political asylum. From Mexico he first admitted his insistence with the fourth mandate had been a mistake and anticipated he would not be a candidate in fresh elections. However now he argues he won’t run (which constitutionally he is barred and faces electoral fraud charges), as long as he can end his presidential mandate next 20 January.

This because the Legislative is packed with MAS lawmakers who refused to consider and accept his resignation. Given this circumstance and the fact that the interim government is mandated to hold elections in the next 90 days, and with the Legislative blocking, the option of a “supreme decree” has emerged.

This would have to be supported by OAS, UN and the European Union who are trying to mediate in the conflict and overcome the current social upheaval situation.

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