Bolivian President Evo Morales announced Monday that his government will hold a referendum to decide whether or not to allow presidential re-election after a second term.
“There is no reason to fear the people. The most democratic thing to do is (to call for) a referendum … fearing the people would be undemocratic,” said Morales during a press conference.
The president's decision comes after opposition factions challenged a bill which would modify the constitution to allow for the re-election of the president and vice-president.
The governing Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) lawmakers had repeatedly vowed to use their two-third majority in Congress to pass the new law.
However, last week the National Council for Change – that gathers social movements backing the government – issued a statement asking the government to launch a referendum to decide on the issue.
Under the current law, President Morales – who is serving his second constitutional term – cannot run for a third time. The constitution only allows an immediate re-election.
“I'm surprised when I hear some saying 'Evo forever'. I've said I'm not the pope,” the president said. “This is currently being debated by the social movements, if it's (presidential reelection) for five more years (one presidential term), ten years (two terms) or indefinite, I don't want to get involved in that debate,” he said.
Bolivia is set to hold new presidential elections in 2020, but it is unclear when the referendum will be held.
President Morales further revealed that several opposition leaders and businessmen have approached him to express their support for his re-election.
In the past, the president has said he would leave the presidential seat after his current term is over. However, during the press conference, Morales admitted he had been considering running again for president in the next elections for some time.
Countries such as Venezuela, Spain, Switzerland and Italy currently allow indefinite presidential re-election.