Morales claims victory, mobilization continues

The incumbent Bolivian President Evo Morales was re-elected in the first round of the presidential election, the vote of which is controversial, according to the almost complete results communicated by the electoral authority.

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Anti-government protesters march to La Paz to demand a second round in the presidential election on 24 October. Juan Karita / AP

On Thursday 24 October at around 6 pm, after counting 99.81% of the ballot papers, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) indicated on its website that the head of the socialist state of Bolivia had won 47.06% of the votes, against 36.52% for his main opponent, the centrist Carlos Mesa. The gap is more than 10 percentage points needed to win in the first round, and irrattrapable for Carlos Mesa. "We won in the first round"The Socialist President Evo Morales, who has been in power since 2006 and is on his way to a fourth term from 2020 to 2025, told the press on Thursday.

Shortly afterwards, however, he had said for the first time that he was open to a second round. "If we do not win with 10 points difference, we will respect" the result, "If we have to go to the second round, we'll go"he had said.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also Bolivia: Evo Morales claims victory in the presidential election

Restore confidence with a second round

In this respect, the European Union called on «Put an end to the counting process in progress», believing that "The best option would be to hold a second round to restore confidence and ensure respect for the democratic choice of the Bolivian people".

For their part, the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, asked Thursday that a second round takes place if the Organization of American States does not confirm the result of the first round.

"Mesa is the Guaido of the Andes"defended Juan Ramon Quintana, one of Evo Morales' ministers, in reference to Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognized as Venezuela's interim president by some 50 countries, including the United States. "He is banking on the Venezuelan option of a parallel government. With his complicit silence, he is legitimizing violence "he added, referring to the violent incidents between the two sides over the counting.

After first partial figures, Sunday night, hinting at a second round, new results released on Monday had virtually given the victory to the outgoing head of state, raising the suspicion of fraud on the part of the opposition and international observers. Meanwhile, the tension was increasing in Bolivia.

Two injured in protests

New incidents between supporters of both sides erupted on Thursday in Santa Cruz, Bolivia's economic capital and opposition stronghold, in the east, from where the general strike and surrounding areas began.

"Bolivia said no! "shouted the demonstrators, wrapped in flags of Bolivia's colors. In La Guardia, a rural village outside Santa Cruz, at least two young people close to the ruling party, the MAS, have been injured, AFP reported. "We will continue the mobilization (…) the youth of Santa Cruz is ready to put his life in parentheses if we do not respect democracy", exclaimed Thursday in La Paz Luis Fernando Camacho, the president of the influential Pro-Santa Cruz Committee, a conservative organization gathering traders, entrepreneurs and ordinary citizens, at the origin of the strike.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also In Bolivia, violence and suspicion of electoral fraud

Along with other representatives of central and right-wing organizations and political parties, he went to support candidate Carlos Mesa. Constitute collective, they demanded the holding of a second round and called to the mobilization "Peaceful".

Those of Bolivians who denounce a "Autocracy", have not digested the decision of Morales, in power since 2006, to seek a fourth term, while voters were against in a referendum in 2016.

The head of state, the first indigenous leader of Bolivia, described the general strike as " Rebellion " hatched by the right and called his supporters to mobilization. In La Paz Thursday afternoon, a procession of several thousand demonstrators descended from the suburbs of El Alto to the seat of government.

Read also Bolivia: opposition to the general strike launched by the opposition, Evo Morales denounces a coup d'etat

The election observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Bolivia, for its part, estimated on Wednesday that the " best solution " would be to declare a ballot between the two candidates. The Catholic Church has abounded in this sense.


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