Bolivia’s Morales declares himself election victor

Elias Hubbard
October 25, 2019

Bolivian President Evo Morales accused his opponents Wednesday of trying to stage a coup against him amid protests over a disputed election that he claims he won outright, while a almost finished but slow vote count had him teetering on the threshold between getting the win and having to go to a runoff.

President Evo Morales earlier declared himself the victor, with official results appearing to show him winning the first round outright.

President Evo Morales on Thursday declared himself victor of the weekend election without a final vote tally, stirring more anger among foes who have protested for days claiming fraud in the vote count, while the U.S., Brazil, Argentina and Colombia joined in calling for Bolivia to hold a runoff between the incumbent and his top challenger. That gap would mean he would avoid a risky second round run-off.

Opposition leaders have called on Bolivians to defend "the citizen vote and democracy" in the streets against suspicions of fraud by Morales's party.

Violent protests have raged all week, and fresh clashes broke out Thursday between supporters of both sides in Santa Cruz, the economic capital and opposition stronghold.

Morales is seeking another term amid controversy. The opposition has reported fraud in the counting of votes from the weekend election.

"A coup is under way".

"I want to denounce to the people and the world that a coup d'etat is underway", Morales said at a news conference Wednesday.

"Until now, humbly, we have put up with it in order to avoid violence and we have not entered into confrontation".

Demonstrators wrapped in the national flag shouted "Bolivia said No!" "Not because people will rise up against him but because it will be hard for him to govern", Yerko Ilijic, a Bolivian political analyst, told Reuters.

On Monday, after the release of the controversial election results, mobs torched electoral offices in Sucre and Potosi, while rival supporters clashed in La Paz.

The observer mission of the Organization of American States asked for explanations and the European Union and the United Nations expressed concern about the electoral process and called for calm.

Speaking to reporters, Morales also said he will take measures to "defend" democracy and is confident he will be declared the victor of Sunday's election with no need for a runoff.

"I think you will see pretty strong response from the whole hemisphere, not just the US", Kozak said during a US House of Representatives hearing. As of midday Thursday, electoral authorities had still not announced a final result.

"They should do that".

And the Catholic Church voiced support for a runoff, with Bolivian bishops saying in a statement that "a second round with impartial supervision is the best democratic solution we have at this time".

If he maintains that lead, it would give him an outright victory, avoiding a second-round runoff.

A number of electoral offices have been set alight and opponents of Mr Morales launched a general strike on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, an umbrella organization of pro-Morales labor and farmers' unions, CONALCAM, called on its members to defend the official results.

The unrest marked a major jolt for the land-locked country, which has had a long stretch of political stability under Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president and Latin America's longest continuous-serving standing leader.

Mr Morales said he received the 10 percentage point lead over his nearest rival that he needed to win in the first round of voting.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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