- Title: BOLIVIA: Lawsuit against a Supreme Court judge heats up election campaigns
- Date: 22nd November 2009
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (NOVEMBER 20, 2009) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) OPPOSITION CONGRESS MEMBER LOURDES MILLARES, SAYING: "We think that on top of the objective of justice that the administration supposedly favors, there is an intention to seize judicial power because the government understands that it needs judicial administrators that respond to the designs of the presidential palace. Evo Morales has already said it when he said he did not only want executive power, but judicial and legislative as well." PARLIAMENTARY BUILDING
- Embargoed: 7th December 2009 12:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA2ZKPG5VKSQF2T5NGL6RFKH7TS
- Story Text: The highest level of judicial power in Bolivia was left paralyzed Friday (November 20) just over two weeks before general elections as the result of a lawsuit against a Supreme Court Magistrate.
The conservative opposition accused the government of President Evo Morales, who is up for re-election on December 06, of meddling, saying the lawsuit against Judge Rosario Canedo, brought forward by the House of Representatives which is controlled by Morales' Movement Towards Socialism Party, or MAS, was part of a plan to "destroy" justice.
In a resolution adopted by the House during a tense, 10-hour meeting, Canedo was accused of malfeasance and economic damage to the state. The judge then declared a hunger strike and spent the night in the legislative palace.
"In Bolivia there is no justice that we can fall back on, we have been killed by arrogance, by the abuse of power and this is what must come to an end. My hunger strike is precisely to end a precedent where power is used in such an abusive manner," said Canedo.
Canedo spent Thursday night into Friday in a chamber in the Parliament Building with her sister and daughter.
Police blocked food the two accompanying Canedo to enter the chamber and they also blocked blankets and hygienic supplies from reaching the three as they spent the night.
MAS congressman Gustavo Torrico later announced in an adjacent chamber that he too was on hunger strike and would remain on strike until Canedo abandoned her form of protest.
"This is a hunger strike in defense of state heritage, in defense of justice and so that once they finish with all of these discretionary maneuvers justice can be done, especially when it comes to the extraction of state resources," said Torrico.
Canedo was immediately suspended from the court following the indictment by the House. Since Supreme Court President Eddy Fernandez, also facing a parliamentary trail for alleged delays in justice, was suspended mid-year, Canedo's suspension brought the number of eligible magistrates on the court to just six-- too few to operate.
The Supreme Court's shutdown complicates matters in a country where the Constitutional Court was already paralyzed by the resignation of members after government accusations.
Opposition Minister Lourdes Millares defended Canedo saying the charges by the ruling party are an outrage and that Morales rules like a dictator and is working against judicial institutions.
"We think that on top of the objective of justice that the administration supposedly favors, there is an intention to seize judicial power because the government understands that it needs judicial administrators that respond to the designs of the presidential palace. Evo Morales has already said it when he said he did not only want executive power, but judicial and legislative as well," said Millares.
The accusations against Canedo relate to the bankruptcy of a private bank several years ago.
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