Bolivia takes to the streets

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Political tensions continue to grow in Bolivia as protests against President Evo Morales have entered their third week.

Morales has been in office for almost 14 years and ran for a fourth term in office this year, despite his legitimacy being strongly questioned.

In 2016, Bolivians voted against eliminating term limits in a referendum, but the government later ruled that term limits violated human rights. His main opponent in these elections was former President, Carlos Mesa.

Early returns from the election on the 20th October suggested that Morales had not obtained the 10% margin over Mesa that he needed to secure the presidency without a runoff.

Protestors have progressed from demanding a run-off, to calling for Morales to step down as president

However, updates on the quick count were interrupted abruptly.
24 hours later, Morales was announced as the winner of the elections with a 10.35% margin – just enough to stop a runoff. In the following days, once all the votes were counted, the results said Morales had secured the 10-point lead he needed, but Bolivians no longer trust the electoral authorities.

The opposition to Morales has accused him of voter fraud and called for new elections to be held. Since the announcement from the quick count, protests and marches have been organised across Bolivia, with electoral offices being set on fire, and a general strike on the 23rd of October. Protesters have progressed from demanding a runoff, to calling on Morales to step down as president.

In 2016, Bolivians voted against eliminating term limits in a referendum

On the 30th of October, an unknown gunman opened fire on the protestors, leaving two dead and six wounded. The military has stated that they will not intervene against the protestors.

The OAS is conducting an audit of the election, expected to be completed by mid-November. Both the EU and the OAS have recommended that a runoff be held and the US has expressed its concern.

This article was written prior to the resignation of Evo Morales.

Image from Joel Alvarez via Wikimedia Commons

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