October 14, 2005

Constitutional Court Comes to the Rescue

MABB © ®
The Bolivian Constitutional Court has provided one more reason supporting the general elections in December 4, 2005. The court's ruling says that the general and prefectural elections are indeed constitutionl and there is no reason why they should be postponed.

The ruling was the culmination of a demand presented by two members of Congress, who challenged the legality and constitutionality of the upcoming elections. They argued that the elections for Congressional seats and the prefectural elections were unconsitutional.

In the case of the elections for congressional seats, the Constitution said that in case the presidential office was taken by the presiden of the Supreme Court, he was supposed to inmediately call for presidential and vice-presidential elections. However, in light of the socio-political crisis, Congress amended the Constitution allowing the president in turn to call to general elections instead.

As for the prefectural elections, the arguments presented to the court were grounded in the reasoning that, again the Constitution said, the president would be the one who appointed prefects. Nonetheless, at the same time of the crisis, Congress agreed to amend the Constitution to provide the basis for prefectural elections. The president still retains the ability to appoint those candidates elected.

In this manner the Constitutional Court takes itself out of the debate and it also adheres itself to the Executive branch in backing up the legality of the upcoming elections.

Now, the process is in more solid legal ground. With the Executive branch giving Congress a deadline (Monday, next week) to resolve the issue of seat redistribution, the general elections seem to be coming back into line.

The only issue pending now is the redistribution of Congressional seats being played in the Congress itself. Deep divisions between the Santa Cruz faction and the Potosi, Oruro, La Paz factions seem to be overwhelming.

More on this issue here and here.