August 27, 2006

Bolivian Constituent Assembly: Reports from Sucre

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The Constituent Assembly (CA) has started its work in Sucre. As mentioned in this other post, the main trouble spots are organizational and the nature of the CA. According to last week's deliberations, there was still disagreement on the nature of the CA. The Morales government and its party, MAS, want to declare the CA as originaria (the source of every decision). This would mean that the assembly would be above all the branches of government and even above the laws which provided for its creation (the current Bolivian Constitution and the law convening the CA). Some of the arguments talk about the frame of reference character of the laws, which would allow the assembly to escape its force. Another argument is that the laws have many legal holes thus not being really enforceable. At the same time, the opposition, jumped on the issue going as far as to accusing the government of preparing a Fujimoresque auto-coup-de-etat.

In the days leading up to the weekend there have been news reports talking about a new agreement between the MAS and the smaller parties, such as National Unity (UN) and MNR. The posible agreement would be that the CA could be denominated originaria (or originating) and in exchange the MAS would compromise to respect the three branches of government and that the majority of decisions would use the 2/3 rule. Nonetheless, the decision is still to be made officially and within the sub-commission of conceptualization.

Now, the assembly is still working on defining its internal structure. According to some reports, the basic structure is already in form. There will be sub-commissions for new state; rights and guarantees; organization of the state; other organs of the state; territorial organization, decentralization and autonomy; citizenship and nationality; intercultural education; culture and sports; social development; natural resources; environment; land and territory and rural development; economics and finance; security and national defense; national boundaries, sovereignty, international relations and integration. There will be committees for eithics, constitutional reforms and primacy, final and transitory decisions and for the writing of the new constitutional text.

For sure this weekend is being negotiated hard, but next week we should expect a decision on whether the CA is originating, the 2/3 rule will be used and to know more about the shape and rules of it.