- Title: Bolivia's government offers vote count audit after election backlash
- Date: 22nd October 2019
- Summary: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA (OCTOBER 22, 2019) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF BOLIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PLAQUE ON EXTERIOR BOLIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, DIEGO PARY, ENTERING ROOM FOR NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, DIEGO PARY, SAYING: "As a government our interest is that the whole process have the necessary transparency. We are the most interested in having all Bolivians' votes be counted. And in that framework, we're asking the Secretary General of the OAS (Organization of American States) to establish a commission as soon as possible to perform an audit on the entire process of the official vote tally of the October 20 elections." PARY AT NEWS CONFERENCE BOLIVIAN SHIELD (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, DIEGO PARY, SAYING: "The national government is the most interested in guaranteeing transparency. We're the most interested in concluding the election process. Whatever the result may be, we as the government are going to accept it. And, we reaffirm that transparency is important, and we are awaiting the counting process to be concluded in the nine departments of the country." PARY LISTENING TO JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) BOLIVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, DIEGO PARY, SAYING: "The country can't be harmed with blockades, with anti-democratic actions, the occupation of institutions, the burning of institutions, that is not appropriate for democracy and that doesn't help find solutions that contribute to and consolidate our democracy. We as a government are offering all the guarantees of transparency. What further transparency does the opposition demand?" PARY DEPARTS NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 5th November 2019 22:10
- Keywords: Bolivia foreign minister Diego Pary presidential results elections President Evo Morales campaign observers OAS vote dispute
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA001B26L64N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The government of Bolivian President Evo Morales on Tuesday (October 22) asked an official observer of the country's disputed presidential election to conduct an audit of a binding vote count after an official quick tally showing him winning sparked a backlash and violent street protests.
The observer, the Organization of American States (OAS), had raised concerns after the electoral board's quick count of votes was abruptly halted on Sunday when Morales appeared to be heading for a run-off with chief rival against Carlos Mesa.
When the quick count resumed amid an outcry a day later, Morales had eked out enough of a lead to win outright in the first-round, a change the OAS said had "drastically modified the fate of the election" and hurt confidence in the process.
The OAS, made up of states in the Western Hemisphere, convened a special meeting for Wednesday to discuss the matter.
Foreign Minister Diego Pary denied foul play and announced in a press conference on Tuesday that he had invited the OAS to audit "the whole process of the official vote."
Pary added that the OAS and concerned foreign governments such as the United States were welcome to monitor the rest of the official count, which by the time he spoke had advanced to more than 80%, with Morales carrying 44% of ballots and Mesa 40%.
The winner needs more than 50% or 40% plus a 10-point lead to avoid a December 15 run-off.
"Whatever the result may be, we as the government are going to accept it," Pary told a news conference. "Transparency is important."
The comments marked a much softer tone from Morales' speech after the election on Sunday (October 20), when he said he was sure outstanding votes from rural areas would give him an outright win, even though the official quick tally showed a second round was likely.
Mesa celebrated a first-round victory on Sunday, then said on Monday he did not recognize the updated results showing Morales winning outright.
It was unclear if the offer of an audit would be enough to halt protests that continued for a second day in La Paz, after a night of rioting and skirmishes between voters and police that saw vote counting stations and ballot boxes set ablaze in some regions. In one case, two people jumped from a burning building to escape the flames.
(Production: Sergio Limachi, Monica Machicao)
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