In Bolivia, violence and suspicion of electoral fraud

The opposition contests the counting of the first presidential round, which would give victory to Evo Morales.

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Supporters of opponent Carlos Mesa demonstrate near the Supreme Electoral Court on October 21 in La Paz.
Supporters of opponent Carlos Mesa demonstrate near the Supreme Electoral Court on October 21 in La Paz. Juan Karita / AP

" What a shame ! We are witnessing a crude and shameless fraud "is outraged Natalia, came to protest with a friend at the exit of his work. "They want to rob us of our vote"she said disgustedly, before resuming with the crowd, "The vote respects itself, shit! "

Gathered in front of the Real Plaza Hotel in La Paz, where the electoral body met for vote counting, supporters of Carlos Mesa – the candidate who came second in Sunday's presidential election – are calling for fraud.

The scenario they feared eventually came true. After twenty-four hours of silence and suspense, the electoral body began again, on the evening of Monday, October 21, to issue results. Sunday, the count of 84% of the vote gave Evo Morales a seven-point lead over his competitor, Carlos Mesa (Comunidad Ciudadana, center), placing the latter in position to play a second round. The new Monday night count changes the game.

Evo Morales is now ahead of Carlos Mesa by ten points and could win in the first round, with 46.8% of votes against 36.7%. An extremely tight result that should still evolve in the next hours, because only 95% of the votes were validated by the electoral body. To win in the first round, the candidate in the lead must obtain the absolute majority or at least 40% of the votes and ten points of difference on the second.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also End of electoral campaign in Bolivia, in a climate of uncertainty

"Evo, you lost"

This reversal sparked clashes and scenes of violence in several cities across the country. In Oruro, southeast of the capital La Paz, the seat of the Movement to Socialism (MAS), the ruling party, was set on fire. In Tarija, in the south, and in Sucre, the constitutional capital, the electoral courts were vandalized.

In La Paz, with his arm raised towards the windows of the hotel where Bolivia's future is playing out, Victor and Angela shout, "Evo, you lost, did not you understand? " Like many, they are getting ready to stay a good part of the night " if necessary ", for " lobby " on a supreme electoral court to which they have no confidence. "We are not afraid! " they chanted, as firecrackers sounded everywhere and tear gas saturated the ambient air.


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