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Bolivian Ruling Party Concedes Ground in Constitutional Assembly Standoff


The ruling party of Bolivian President Evo Morales has agreed to opposition party demands to maintain voting rules in the deadlocked constitutional assembly.

The Movement Toward Socialism Party, also known as MAS, agreed on Wednesday to require the assembly to pass amendments to the country's constitution by a two-thirds vote. The party, which controls the 255-seat assembly, wanted to approve any new changes by a simple majority of votes.

The ruling party offered the concession to break a stalemate that surfaced after the assembly was created last August. But Vice President Alvaro Garcia said if the assembly does not approve a new constitution by July, when its mandate expires, any new amendments will be approved by a simple majority.

A member of one opposition party, Congressman Fernando Messmer of Podemos, says the ruling party could block all other proposals until a simple majority takes effect.

Mr. Morales is seeking to rewrite Bolivia's constitution to give greater political and economic power to the country's poor and indigenous peoples. His recent moves to redistribute land ownership and nationalize the country's oil and natural gas sectors have been unpopular among conservatives.

Opposition leaders staged massive protests against Mr. Morales in three of Bolivia's wealthy eastern provinces last month.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.