LA PAZ – Bolivian lawmakers on Saturday unanimously approved a measure calling for new presidential elections that would exclude former leader Evo Morales — a key step toward pacifying a nation rocked by unrest since an Oct. 20 marred by reported irregularities.
The bill was first approved by the Senate and then later in the day by the lower house, both of which are dominated by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party. Interim President Jeanine Áñez tweeted that she would promulgate the bill into law Sunday morning.
“I want to thank our parliamentarians for having understood and heard the demands of the Bolivian people,” Áñez wrote.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal will set the date for the new elections. Bolivia’s lawmakers must still select new members to the tribunal.
The measure forbids reelection of anyone who has served the last two terms consecutively as president, effectively ruling out Morales, whose refusal to accept such term limits was a key issue in protests against him.
Morales’ claim of victory and a fourth term in the election prompted massive protests that led him to resign on Nov. 10 at the army’s suggestion. An audit by a team from the Organization of American States found widespread irregularities in that election.
After Morales left for asylum in Mexico, his own supporters took to the streets in protest.
Officials say at least 32 people have died in demonstrations since the presidential election, which would be annulled by Saturday’s vote.