Bolivia passes law to allow Morales to run for fourth term

A poster of Bolivia's President Evo Morales is seen displayed at the National Congress building in La Paz September 25, 2015. REUTERS/David Mercado

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia’s parliament passed a law on Saturday that would allow President Evo Morales to run for another term if ratified in a national referendum next year.

The law, approved in a marathon overnight session by more than two-thirds of lawmakers, would amend the constitution in order to eliminate presidential term limits.

“It’s not about being forever,” Morales told reporters in New York, where he is attending the annual U.N. General Assembly.

Morales, who came to power in 2006 and whose approval rating is above 60 percent, argues he would happily give up office but says his supporters are pushing for him to stay.

Historically one of South America’s most unstable countries, Bolivia has enjoyed relative prosperity and calm under Morales, its first indigenous leader. Its economy has tripled in size.

The current constitution, adopted in 2009, bars more than two consecutive terms.

Critics accuse Morales, who has been elected three times, of already defying that ban. The president argues the first term did not count as it preceded the adoption of the constitution.

If the constitutional amendment were to be ratified in a referendum many see taking place in February 2016, Morales said he would run for a fourth term in the 2019 elections.

Reporting by Daniel Ramos; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Matthew Lewis