Latin America & Caribbean

Bolivia rally urges Evo Morales' fourth term

An Aymara woman, supporter of Bolivia's President Evo Morales, attends a meeting on a bid to declare President Evo Morales" indefinite re-election, in La Paz, Bolivia, November 7, 2017. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Morales enjoys overwhelming support among Bolivia's indigenous groups

Thousands of Bolivians have rallied in La Paz, calling for President Evo Morales to be allowed to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019.

Mr Morales - Bolivia's first indigenous leader - has been in office since 2006.

His supporters say he needs more time in power in order to consolidate his programme of social reforms.

A proposal to amend the constitution to allow him to run again was rejected in a referendum last year. The opposition says the result must be respected.

China construction row

Tuesday's demonstration in Bolivia's largest city was organised by indigenous groups and the various unions that back Mr Morales' Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party.

If Mr Morales, 58, is allowed to run for re-election and wins the vote, his term will end in 2025.

By then, he will have been in power for 19 years.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Morales has been in power since January 2006

"President Evo, the people are with you," said community leader Jesús Vera, who took part in the demonstration.

"For as long as the people continue to support your government, you will continue to be the president of all Bolivians," he added.

The government says it narrowly lost last year's referendum because of an illegal defamatory campaign against Mr Morales.

Allegations surfaced shortly before the referendum accusing Mr Morales of using his influence to favour a Chinese construction firm in Bolivia, which he denied.

Mr Morales initially said he would respect the outcome of the poll.

But he later appealed to the Constitutional Court, which is expected to rule in December on whether to allow him to stand again.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Morales opponents say the referendum's result must be respected and "No means no"

Mr Morales' defence has quoted the American Convention of Human Rights, saying that the Bolivian people have the right to vote for him and that he has the right to be elected.

The opposition and other groups, including the powerful trade union federation, Bolivian Union's Centre (COB), criticised Tuesday's march.

They said the government should to respect the referendum's result.

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