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Cablegate: Bolivian Congress Modifies Law to Extend

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLP #2155/01 2192057
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 072057Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4559
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6983
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4338
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8226
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5468
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2695
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2870
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4772
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5329
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 9935
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0460
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

UNCLAS LA PAZ 002155

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON BL
SUBJECT: BOLIVIAN CONGRESS MODIFIES LAW TO EXTEND
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

REF: A. LA PAZ 1981

B. LA PAZ 1709
C. LA PAZ 1625

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Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Late in the evening of August 3, the Bolivian
Congress approved a law modifying the original legislation
(Law 3364) that convoked the Constituent Assembly (CA). The
modifying legislation extends the CA's timetable to December
14 and sets forth a number of additional requirements,
including national referendums, management of commission
reports, and inclusion of autonomy referendum results.
Although some CA members are protesting the new requirements,
it seems likely that it will be accepted, given that the
modified law reflects a deal made by all the parties. End
summary.

---------------------------------------
Commission Reports and the Constitution
---------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The new modifying legislation addresses the suspect
"minority" reports that were issued by certain commissions,
when Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) delegates split their
votes in order to issue both the majority and minority
reports (refs B and C.) The new legislation states that the
party that supports the majority report may not split itself
so as to also issue a minority report. The text of the new
constitution will be approved as a whole based on the
majority reports, with the minority reports "considered in
detail".

------------------------
Two National Referendums
------------------------

3. (SBU) Congress also decided that there will be two
national referendums, one to settle any questions that the CA
has not approved by two-thirds majority and the other to
ratify the entire text of the constitution. The first
referendum (to settle unresolved questions) will be convoked
by Congress, while the referendum to approve the constitution
will be convoked by the executive branch. Both of these
referendums will be decided by simple majority of voters.

----------------------------------------
Inclusion of Autonomy Referendum Results
----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Article 7 of the modifying legislation sets out the
obligation to include the results of the autonomy referendum
of 2006 in the text of the new constitution, specifying that
autonomy shall be immediate upon passage of the constitution.
No explicit reference was made to the question of the
capital and whether it should be moved to Sucre, leaving this
thorny question still potentially mired in the CA (ref A).

----------
Timetables
----------

5. (SBU) The modifying legislation extends the official
session of the CA until December 14; however, the mandate of
the CA members is extended until the new constitution enters
into force (9 months later) in case consultations with CA
members are necessary. After the CA concludes on December
14, the referendum to settle unanswered issues will take
place within 120 days and the results of that referendum
should be incorporated in the text of the constitution within
30 days. After that, the final referendum to approve the
constitution should take place within 120 days.

-------
Comment
-------


6. (SBU) Although most CA members have accepted this new
modification of their schedule and their powers, some
assembly-members are protesting the intrusion by Congress and
questioning the Congress's legal right to set conditions on
the operation of the "originario" and sovereign Constituent
Assembly. Most complaints are coming from MAS members of the
CA. This furor within the MAS block of assembly-members
provides an indication of just how much the government gave
away to the opposition in negotiating the CA extension. The
intra-MAS conflict probably foreshadows growing tensions
within the MAS party. End comment.
GOLDBERG

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