Bolivian President likely to resign after new Congress setback

Lawmakers did not passed a bill to call on anticipated elections as asked by President Carlos Mesa

Bolivian President Carlos Mesa may finally quit after his surprise call for early elections to replace him was rejected by the Congress. If as advanced by some of his collaborators, Mesa resigns, vicepresident and Congress leaders would follow him and the head of the Supreme Court of Justice will take office and call on immediate elections, in a move that could threat country's fragile stability.

Mesa suffered his first setback in Congress on Monday, when the lower chamber passed a new law on hydrocarbons fuelled by the leftist opposition. In an aired statement on Tuesday, Mesa said the new law would isolate Bolivia from the international community, as it rises foreign corporations' taxes from 15% to 50%.

Then, the Bolivian leader said he was fed up with street protests and highway blockades against his rule that have paralyzed the economy and submitted a bill calling for presidential elections in August, two years ahead of schedule. On Wednesday, Congress leaders and analysts said the bill was unconstitutional and anticipated their negative vote, which turned into reality on Thursday evening.

"We want him to stay," said Evo Morales, a lower house deputy and head of the main opposition party Movement Toward Socialism. "We and other parties think the proposal for early elections is unconstitutional." However, Morales, leader of the farmers and main instigator of the protests,  moderated his position after the Congress partially the new energy law.

Carlos Mesa counted with Congress support last week when both chambers rejected his resignation offer, a move to regain some political initiative after weeks of street protests. However, it looks like it have lost it now, after suffering two serious setbacks this week.

The situation remains uncertain now as Mesa could finally resign in anytime and no one in South America's poorest country can assure that the transition to new elections will be peaceful.

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Author`s name Olga Savka