Bolivian parties agree on constitutional assembly

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LA PAZ, Sep 21 (Reuters) Bolivia's political parties agreed to revive the assembly working to rewrite the constitution, which had been stalled for weeks, Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said.

The assembly, a key promise of leftist President Evo Morales, has not met for over a month after violent protests rocked the central city of Sucre, where it meets.

''It's been a fruitful dialogue, democratic, horizontal and plural ... to make the Constitutional Assembly feasible, so that it can finish its work on time (before December 14),'' Garcia Linera said yesterday after 16 hours of talks with opposition parties.

Linera said representatives of all groups who have delegates in the assembly, which was seated last year, have signed an agreement expressing willingness to renew work.

The deal calls for the creation of a special commission that will start sessions on Monday to seek consensus on tough issues, such as allowing presidential re-election, a proposal backed by the ruling party.

Other thorny issues in the assembly are land reform and more rights for the poor and Indian majority, supported by delegates from Morales' Movement Toward Socialism party.

Opposition groups want the new constitution to give more autonomy to the eastern provinces they govern. They also support a proposal to move the capital to Sucre.

Earlier this month, assembly President Silvia Lazarte called for a monthlong recess until around October 10, saying the unrest in Sucre could threaten safety of delegates.

Edwin Velazquez, delegate from the National Revolutionary Movement, told local radio Erbol that when it meets again, the assembly would have to discuss the tough issue of moving the capital.

''The issue of the capital has been the reason why the assembly has been on a standstill since August 15. Not to discuss this matter would keep the problem going,'' he said.

Protests flared up in Sucre last month, after the assembly decided not to consider a proposal by civic leaders to move the executive and legislative branches there.

Sucre is the country's legal capital and home to the highest courts, but Congress and the executive branch are in the administrative capital, La Paz.


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