by Rene Quenallata Paredes
LA PAZ, Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Bolivia is marching toward the end of the year on the same note it began -- President Evo Morales' pursuit of a fourth term in office.
At the start of 2016, the government prepared to gauge public opinion about the three-time president seeking continuity in his presidency.
However, Morales lost the Feb. 21 referendum that would have allowed him to run again in the 2019 elections, by a razor-thin margin.
While Morales remains extremely popular -- for driving development in one of Latin America's poorest countries since first assuming office in 2006, his reputation had taken a hit from a scandal involving a former girlfriend and allegations of influence peddling.
Talk of his reelection largely subsided until mid-December, when Morales announced his intention to run again for the top job in the country, after gaining the support of the ruling Movement for Socialism (MAS) party.
To get a new term in office, Morales still has to combat a legal hurdle and the protest of the opposition party.
Bolivia's Constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms, a stipulation the referendum could have overturned had the "Yes" camp won.
Morales' first term legally does not count because it predates the new Constitution, adopted in 2009. However, he still des not qualify for a fourth term in accordance with the law.
To surmount the legal obstacle, the MAS has proposed more than one solution.
"There are four ways, all four constitutional, legal, legitimate and irrefutable," Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said in an interview with a local TV network on Sunday night.
One strategy calls for holding another referendum to amend the Constitution, following a signature drive to prove the measure has popular backing.
The second way proposes having a Legislative Assembly vote on a constitutional reform, which would require two-thirds support.
A third alternative asks for the Constitutional Court to rule whether the term limit infringes on fundamental freedoms.
The fourth option would see Morales resign the presidency six months before his term ends on Jan. 22, 2020, failing to complete his term.
Exactly which method would be deployed and which result would follow remain to be seen. One thing is certain. That is it would encounter opposition domestically.
The opponents of Morales and the MAS in Bolivia have warned of the possibility of the president extending his tenure through 2025.
The head of the opposition Christian Democratic Party and former President Jorge Quiroga said at a press conference on Monday: "We democrats are going to work with all of the political and civic organizations to prevent the serious and evident violation of the Constitution."
"What the MAS is doing is failing to respect the people's vote," he added.
Alfredo Rada, Bolivia's deputy minister for coordination with social movements, an agency of the presidential office, responded by saying the opposition aimed to disqualify the ruling party's reelection proposals out of fear that it would be defeated again at polls.