SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Al Jazeera, Thurs. Oct. 23, 2019: Supporters of Bolivian opposition candidate Carlos Mesa and of President Evo Morales clashed Wednesday as results showed Morales heading for another term.
Morales accused his rivals on Wednesday of attempting a “coup”, after the opposition led three days of protests across the country, saying Sunday’s election was rigged.
With 97 percent of the votes counted, the official results showed Morales with 46.49 percent of the vote, 9.5 points ahead of his main rival Carlos Mesa – but still short of the 10 percent lead required to outright win and avoid a second-round election.
In a news conference in the administrative capital La Paz, Morales reiterated that he had won Sunday’s election outright and accused his rivals of orchestrating a coup.
“I have called this conference to denounce before the people and the entire world, that a coup d’etat is in progress, that that the right had prepared in advance with international support,” he said.
His remarks came after three days of rioting and protests across the landlocked Andean nation. Thousands of mostly young people who accused Morales of tampering with the votes, set fire to counting stations and ballot boxes. Security forces in riot gear responded by firing tear gas canisters.
A preliminary vote count late on Sunday indicated that the election was likely heading to a second-round runoff in December. The publication of results was then abruptly halted. When it resumed 24 hours later, the tally showed Morales with a wider lead, giving him just enough of a margin to win in the first round.
“Right at this instant only a few metres from us a giant fraud is being perpetrated that intends to have us believe that there won’t be a second round, lying to the country, turning their back on your vote, and robbing us of our popular sovereignty,” Mesa told a group of fiery protesters late on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Mesa called for “permanent protests” until a second-round vote was determined, adding that his campaign would soon present evidence of election tampering. (Al Jazeera)