Source AP ©

Judges across Bolivia stage one-day strike

Bolivian judges called a one-day strike Tuesday to protest President Evo Morales' attempts to overturn the suspension of four Supreme Court justices he appointed last year.

Some 900 judges and magistrates sat out work and the Supreme Court issued a statement calling Morales' actions "an intent to cast aside the judicial branch and implant a totalitarian regime."

The left-leaning Morales said he respects the separation of powers and would accept the justices' suspension "if it is legal, if it is constitutional." He earlier said judges were "the most corrupt" segment of Bolivian society.

People unaware of the strike lined up Tuesday morning outside the locked doors of courtrooms in La Paz. Police guarded the courts against retaliation by those whose long-awaited legal appointments had been canceled, but no violence was reported.

Morales appointed the four judges during a congressional recess in December.

Bolivia's Constitutional Tribunal ruled last month that the justices could serve only 90 days unless confirmed by Congress and ordered them suspended until lawmakers can vote.

Morales argues that the tribunal does not have the authority to suspend his appointees, and has asked Congress to overrule its decision - a move Bolivia's striking judges see as a violation of the nation's separation of powers.

Morales' motion is expected to pass in the lower house, where his supporters hold a slim majority, but will likely die in the opposition-controlled Senate.

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