Bolivia's Morales names top judges

Bolivian President Evo Morales named 18 interim high-court judges after Congress allowed him to make top judicial appointments.

Bolivia's Morales names top judges

Bolivian President Evo Morales named 18 interim high-court judges on Thursday after Congress allowed him to make top judicial appointments.

Morales, who began his second term in January after winning a landslide election victory, named magistrates to fill vacant posts on the Supreme Court, the constitutional court and the judicial council, an administrative legal body.

"I'm not appointing anyone so they'll defend Evo Morales. If I make a mistake, send me to jail," the president told the appointed judges in the southern city of Sucre.

The ruling party used its majority in Congress last week to give Morales the go-ahead to appoint judges that will be in their posts until December, when permanent judges to the high courts will be elected in a nationwide vote.

Morales has said the appointments were needed to reduce chronic delays in the justice system.

Opposition leaders have condemned the decision.

"We're moving toward a dictatorship," said Rolando Aguilera, governor of Santa Cruz province, an opposition stronghold.

Local media have suggested Morales could try to influence the judiciary to prosecute right-wing politicians. According to Bolivian daily La Razon, some 70 opposition leaders face charges ranging from embezzlement to terrorism.

Morales was re-elected with more than 64 percent of the vote and his party won a majority in both chambers of Congress. He is wildly popular among Bolivia's majority indigenous population.

A new constitution approved in 2009 allowed Morales to run for a second term and called for members of the high courts to be elected in a popular vote.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2010, 17:13
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