Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns after deadly protests

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

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.

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. His vice president, Álvaro García Linera, has also left office, BBC News reports.

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. At least three people were killed and more than 100 injured during the clashes.

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“I ask you to stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking,” Morales said Sunday.

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

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

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.

The Organization of American States issued a preliminary report Sunday that it found wide-scale data manipulation and could not verify the results of the presidential election.

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 60-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.

Soon after news of Morales’ resignation, Bolivians took to the streets in celebration, waving flags and setting off fireworks. Car horns began sounding in La Paz and other cities, AP added.

Evo Morales protesters
Protesters celebrate after Bolivia’s President Evo Morales announced that he will resign, during a protest against the government in La Paz, Bolivia, on November 10, 2019. Reuters

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