Bolivia Vote Tally Shows Morales Win but Monitors Urge a Run-Off

(Bloomberg) -- The final tally in Bolivia’s election shows that Evo Morales got enough votes to win a fourth term as president, but opponents are disputing the result while the European Union and the Organization of American States called for a second round.

With 99.99% of ballots counted from the Oct. 20 election, Morales had 47.1% versus 36.5% for his main rival, Carlos Mesa. This means that Morales has the lead of more than ten percentage points which he needed to avoid a run-off in December.

Clashes broke out between rival supporters in some cities in the worst violence is the worst the nation has seen in more than a decade, according to Kathryn Ledebur, director of the Andean Information Network, a Bolivia-based think tank.

Morales himself told reporters Thursday that he had secured a first round win. The president is an ally of Nicolas Maduro, though, unlike his Venezuelan counterpart, he has presided over growth and rising living standards.

The Organization of American States identified flaws in the electoral process, and called for a second round in December. The EU said it “fully shares” this view. The OAS has accepted Morales’ invitation to verify the results.

The preliminary vote count was halted on Sunday evening, then re-started 24 hours later. This caused widespread suspicion, protests and accusations of fraud. While votes were still being tallied, the vice president of the electoral authority resigned, and opposition supporters set fire to its regional.

The governments of the U.S., Brazil, Colombia and Argentina said they are “deeply worried” by anomalies in the ballot counting, according to a joint statement send by the Colombian foreign affairs ministry. Even though there’s no clear evidence of fraud, the “confusing lack of transparency” from the electoral authority means that the opposition won’t accept Morales’s win as legitimate, Ledebur said.

The unrest in Bolivia comes after days of clashes in neighboring Chile, following a rise in metro fares, and more than a week of violence in Ecuador earlier in the month after the government increased fuel prices.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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