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In impoverished Bolivia, president's new palace an eyesore for some

© AFP/File | President Evo Morales will soon unveil Bolivia's new presidential palace

LA PAZ (AFP) - 

Bolivia's new presidential palace is certainly an attention-getter, from its heliport to its 29-story tower and its presidential jacuzzi in South America's poorest nation.

President Evo Morales, the Andean nation's leftist leader, is shrugging off naysayers.

This is "wasteful," opposition leader Samuel Doria Medina claims. The $34-40 million price tag would be better spent on a cancer hospital, he said.

Even a Bolivian cardinal, Toribio Ticona, took the time out of his day to denounce the princely luxury of the "Evo Palace."

Almost 40 percent of Bolivia's population lives in poverty.

The 120-meter (400-foot) skyscraper should not have been allowed under restrictions in La Paz's Spanish colonial old quarter.

But Morales got an exception from the legislature, where his allies are in control.

The building also boasts seven elevators, including one for the exclusive use of the commander in chief, local media reported.

Two floors will be reserved for the head of state, including a presidential suite of 1,068 square meters (11,500 square feet), according to plans revealed by the newspaper Pagina Siete.

It will also boast a sauna, a jacuzzi, a massage area and a gym.

In power for 12 years, Morales, the country's first indigenous president and a key leader of Latin America's far left, has been authorized by the courts to seek a fourth term in 2019, despite a referendum saying otherwise.

He has christened his new palace the "Great House of the People."

"We will leave a solid infrastructure, a legacy for the children of our children... of a strong, solid country, as opposed to a colonial state" that existed before Morales, Franklin Flores of the president's ruling party said Monday.

© 2018 AFP