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Bolivian province votes for 'autonomy'

Latest update : 2008-05-06

The Bolivian province of Santa Cruz voted for greater autonomy in a referendum marred by violent clashes between supporters and opponents of President Evo Morales. The president called the vote "illegal and unconstitutional".

Voters in Bolivia's eastern city of Santa Cruz on Sunday approved a referendum on autonomy with 82 percent in favor, an official partial count of 22 percent of the ballots showed.
   
Bolivia's leftwing government has vowed to ignore the result of the vote, which President Evo Morales called "illegal and unconstitutional."
   
Officials in the provincial electoral commission of Santa Cruz said 18 percent of the ballots were against autonomy.
   
They did not immediately give figures for turnout. The government had urged its supporters to boycott the vote.
   
The city of Santa Cruz accounts for around half the population of the province of Santa Cruz, whose total is estimated at 2.5 million. Some 930,000 voters were eligible to participate in Sunday's referendum.
   
Television exit polls for all the province had put approval of the autonomy measures at 85 percent.
   
Morales, in a broadcast reaction after the vote, claimed the poll had been a "resounding failure" because the total number of "no" votes and abstentions added up to nearly 50 percent of the electorate.
   
One commercial television station, PAT, said abstention was estimated at 25 percent.

Date created : 2008-05-05

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