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Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during a ceremony in Tiquipaya, Cochabamba, Bolivia, November 28, 2017. Enzo De Luca/Courtesy of Bolivian Presidency/Handout via REUTERS


LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia's socialist President Evo Morales on Wednesday hailed a decision by the country's highest court to allow him to run for another re-election as "a great surprise for the people, for the revolutionaries, for the anti-imperialists."

The opposition said it would march against the ruling announced on Tuesday by the Constitutional Court, which paved the way for Morales to run for a fourth term in 2019. The court decision was final and cannot be appealed.

The ruling "guarantees a democratic continuity, but also guarantees stability, dignity and work for the Bolivian people," Morales said during a news conference.

Opposition leaders called for several marches to be held on Wednesday, protesting what they say is "the end of democracy" in the land-locked, natural gas-producing country.

"It means a coup d'etat, it means trampling the constitution and the most worrying is that Bolivia is approaching the road that Venezuela is on," Samuel Doria Medina, leader of the National Unity party, told Reuters.

Bolivia is allied with Venezuela, where leftist President Nicolas Maduro is struggling with a severe economic crisis.

Morales, in power since 2006, had previously accepted the results of a 2016 referendum, when 51 percent of voters rejected his proposal to end existing term limits. He later reversed course, saying that while he was willing to leave office, his supporters were pushing for him to stay.

In September, Morales' Movement to Socialism (MAS) party asked the court to rescind legal limits barring elected authorities from seeking re-election indefinitely.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos and Monica Machicao, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Susan Thomas)

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