World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Bolivia at the Crossroads: The December Elections

Bolivia at the Crossroads: The December Elections

Bogotá/Brussels: After the fall of two presidents in as many years, and intensifying social protest, Bolivia is verging on national disintegration. Unless the 18 December elections produce a new government committed to major reforms and national reconciliation, escalation of social and political conflict is a serious risk. Whatever the poll result, the international response must be cautious and constructive.

Bolivia at the Crossroads: The December Elections,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, says that while the elections are an opportunity to begin to tackle deep social, ethnic and economic issues, they are likely to bring their own problems, and that a heavy responsibility lies on both domestic and international actors if stability is to be maintained.

The leading presidential candidates, Evo Morales and Jorge Quirogo, personify the bitter struggle between poor, indigenous and business-oriented, elite power centres. The latest polls give indigenous champion Morales a slight lead over former President Quiroga, but neither is likely to win a majority, which would leave the Congress – also to be chosen on 18 December – to decide the winner. Its decision is likely to be greeted by more and possibly violent protest, especially if Morales wins the popular vote but is snubbed by the likely more conservative legislature.

“The international community, especially the U.S. and Brazil, must support the outcome of the election and focus on promoting areas of common interest”, says Markus Schultze-Kraft, Crisis Group’s Andes Project Director. “This is especially crucial if Morales is elected. Washington is worried about his stand on coca growing, which challenges its drugs policy, and his friendship with Hugo Chavez, but it will need to tread carefully lest it drive him completely into the arms of the Venezuelan president”.

Bolivia’s political parties and citizens groups should focus on core policy issues, such as hydrocarbon management, job creation, real inclusion of the indigenous majority, and poverty reduction, while making clear that the unity of the Bolivian nation-state is non-negotiable. The new government and Congress have to lay the groundwork for a constituent assembly and a referendum on regional autonomy, both slated for mid-2006. If there is buy-in from all sides, these could form the foundation for moving Bolivia toward democratic stability and socio-economic progress. If there is no negotiated consensus, the country could collapse.

“Domestic and international actors need to brace for the election results and the social fallout that may follow”, says Alain Deletroz, Crisis Group’s Latin America Program Director. “That means casting aside individual interests and focusing on supporting the new government, or Latin America’s poorest country will lose its only shot at peace”.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 



UN: Horn Of Africa Faces Most ‘Catastrophic’ Food Insecurity In Decades, Warns WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst famines of the last 70 years... More>>

FAO: Warns 90 Per Cent Of Earth’s Topsoil At Risk By 2050
A full 90 per cent of the Earth’s precious topsoil is likely to be at risk by 2050, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO...
More>>


UNHCR: Alarmed By Growing Death Toll Among Displaced In Eastern DR Congo
UN human rights experts* today urged the As conflict grows in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the rising death toll and suffering of displaced civilians through brutal attacks... More>>



UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>



Singapore: UN Experts Call For Immediate Moratorium On Executions For Drug Offences

UN experts* today condemned the execution of Nazeri Bin Lajim, a 64-year-old Malay Singaporean national convicted of drug offenses and urged the Government of Singapore to halt plans to execute individuals on death row for drug related charges... More>>


Myanmar: Bachelet Condemns Executions, Calls For Release Of All Political Prisoners

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet today condemned in the strongest terms the execution of four democracy activists by Myanmar’s military despite repeated calls... More>>