LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Wednesday that this week’s ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal that he can seek what would be a fourth consecutive term represents a guarantee of stability and “democratic continuity” in the Andean nation.
The court’s decision, which applies to all officeholders from the president on down, was “based on the constitution and above all, based on international law,” the leftist head of state told reporters at the presidential palace.
In a decision announced Tuesday, the tribunal found in favor of a motion brought by the governing MAS party challenging several articles of the constitution and provisions of the electoral law.
The tribunal accepted MAS’ argument that constitutionally mandated term limits for the president and other officeholders violate Article 23 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.
Under the 2009 constitution enacted by Morales, the president is limited to two consecutive terms.
Morales and Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera started their first term in 2006, their second in 2010 and their third in 2015. They were allowed to seek a third mandate thanks to a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal that the adoption of the new national charter in 2009 re-set the clock on terms in office.
In a February 2016 referendum, Bolivian voters rejected Morales’ bid to amend the constitution to allow him to run for re-election once again in 2019.
But Morales contended that the outcome of the plebiscite was tainted by a flurry of negative stories in the media about him in the weeks ahead of the vote.
The damaging stories centered on a former girlfriend of the president who claimed – falsely – to have had a child with Morales.
The president recalled that Tuesday’s court judgment was the culmination of a legal initiative launched last year at a MAS party congress in the eastern city of Montero.
A fourth term would extend Morales’ tenure to 2025.