WASHINGTON - Bolivia’s ruling socialist party defied the results of a February referendum and backed President Evo Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019.
Movement for Socialism (MAS) approved Morales’ candidacy unanimously in its congress held in the eastern city of Montero.
Later, Morales said “if the people say let’s go with Evo, then let’s continue defeating the right and continue with our process,’’ adding “so many times we have defeated the right.”
Morales, Bolivia’s first president with an indigenous background, was first elected in 2005, then re-elected in 2009 and 2014.
He narrowly lost a referendum earlier this year on whether the constitution should be revised to allow him to run again in 2019. His current term expires January 22, 2020.
Bolivia’s constitution only allows two consecutive presidential terms. He had sought to raise it to three straight terms.
While this next election would be for his fourth, the Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that his first term in office did not count since Morales did not complete the full five-year term due to constitutional changes in 2009 making Bolivia a pluri-national state instead of a republic.
MAS is considering several ways to circumvent the referendum results to allow Morales to serve another term as president.
The opposition said that any Morales re-election bid would be unconstitutional because of the referendum.