/Bolivia elections: President Evo Morales resigns today after re-election in October triggered protests

Bolivia elections: President Evo Morales resigns today after re-election in October triggered protests


Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has resigned Sunday not long after the head of the nation’s electoral tribunal stepped down after allegations there were irregularities with the presidential vote held last month.

“I resign my post as president,” he said in a televised speech.

Evo Morales
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales addresses the media at the presidential hangar in the Bolivian Air Force terminal in El Alto, Bolivia, on November 10, 2019.

Reuters


Both Morales and Supreme Electoral Tribunal president María Eugenia Choque announced their resignations after a report cited a “heap of observed irregularities” in the disputed presidential election October 20, according to The Associated Press.

Deadly protests broke out after Morales, a former coca farmer and Latin America’s longest serving leader, claimed a fourth term, which also triggered claims of fraud and a split among security forces.

Bolivia’s top military chief General Williams Kaliman had urged Morales to step down and pleaded with Bolivian’s to stop the violence.

With 99.99% of votes counted in late October, Morales had 47.07% to 36.51% for former President Carlos Mesa, who finished second in the nine-candidate field, according to AP. That gave Morales a 10.56-point lead, a little more than a half point over the threshold he needed to win an outright victory and avoid a second-round ballot in December probably against a united opposition.

Mobs torched electoral offices in Sucre and Potosi days after the election, while rival supporters clashed in the capital La Paz.

Supporters and detractors of Bolivia's President and current candidate Evo Morales confront each other in Santa Cruz de la Sierra
Supporters and detractors of Bolivia’s President and current candidate Evo Morales confront each other in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, October 24, 2019.

Reuters


Morales a native Aymara from Bolivia’s highlands, became the country’ first indigenous president in 2006 and easily won the two following elections. He paved roads, sent Bolivia’s first satellite to space and curbed inflation, according to AP.

The 59-year-old has faced growing dissatisfaction — especially over his refusal to accept the results of a 2016 referendum to keep limits on presidential terms. The country’s top court, considered by critics as friendly to the president, ruled that limits would violate Morales’ political rights as a citizen, AP pointed out.