Mon, Nov 26, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Student killed in protests over Bolivian Constitution

AP , SUCRE, BOLIVIA

Demonstrators walk past burning tires during clashes in Sucre, Bolivia, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Soldiers clashed with students protesting Bolivia's constitutional assembly on Saturday, leaving one student dead in a second day of unrest against the pending legal overhaul.

University student Gonzalo Duran was shot dead in Sucre, said Marcelo Carvajal, head of emergency medicine at the city's Santa Barbara hospital. Another student was hospitalized with serious gunshot wounds, he said.

Sucre City Council head Fidel Herrera said that two students had been killed.

Interior Minister Alfredo Rada said it was unclear who had fired the shots.

He said police and soldiers did not use "deadly weapons."

Thousands of students and residents took to the streets of Sucre on Friday and Saturday, marching to a local military academy where government officials and allies are meeting to draft revisions to the Constitution.

Protesters want the assembly to relocate Bolivia's capital from La Paz to Sucre, a proposal the government has rejected for months.

Sucre is the site of Bolivia's 1825 founding and its first capital. Home to the nation's highest courts, the picturesque colonial city now wants the executive and legislative branches that it lost to La Paz in a brief 1899 civil war to return -- and bring with them much-needed economic development.

Revising the Constitution, which Bolivian President Evo Morales promises will grant the nation's indigenous majority greater say in government, is one of his main political projects.

But the assembly has haggled for more than a year over Bolivia's future without agreeing on a single article of the new constitution, despite a Dec. 14 deadline for a draft.

Violent anti-government protests suspended the assembly in September as students clashed with police, burning tires and trying to seize the historic theater where the assembly then met.

Government allies this month resumed meeting at a military academy outside Sucre.

But clashes forced the assembly to suspend meetings again on Saturday night, after approving a preliminary version of the new constitution. Assembly President Silvia Lazarte said no date has been set for sessions to resume.

"There's a grave danger from the protests and that requires we call a recess," she said.

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