- Title: Shadow hangs over Bolivian elections as Morales scores first-round win
- Date: 25th October 2019
- Summary: ANOTHER NEWSPAPER HEADLINE
- Embargoed: 8th November 2019 17:33
- Keywords: Bolivia election protest opposition
- Location: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- City: LA PAZ, BOLIVIA
- Country: Bolivia
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA004B2LJXAF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Anti-government protesters blocked various streets throughout La Paz on Friday (October 25) after a final vote count by Bolivian authorities handed leftist President Evo Morales an outright victory as thousands of angry protesters marched against him chanting "fraud", allegations that threaten to mar his fourth term.
With 99.99% of votes counted by Bolivia's electoral board, Morales secured a 10.56 point lead over his closest rival Carlos Mesa, narrowly avoiding a risky run-off vote.
The remaining 0.01% of ballot sheets were voided but represent just over 500 votes, well short of the 30,000 needed to change Morales' first-round victory.
Morales, already Latin America's longest-serving president, will now govern South America's poorest country from 2020 to 2025 for a total of 19 years in power.
An unexpected halt to an official quick count after the election on Sunday, followed by a swing in Morales' favor a day later, sparked suspicions of vote-rigging and led to violent street protests.
Morales had already faced charges of authoritarianism for seeking another term this year in defiance of term limits and a 2016 national referendum that opposed lifting them. A Bolivian court ruling authorized his run on the grounds that barring him would violate human rights.
Morales has denied meddling in the vote count, dismissing charges of rigging the election as part of a sinister bid by the right-wing opposition to stoke unrest to topple him, pointing to electoral offices that were torched in some cities in protests earlier this week.
Morales rebuked international election observers earlier on Thursday for questioning the legitimacy of the process and ignored their calls to convene a second-round vote to restore credibility to the election.
(Production: Monica Machicao, Sergio Limachi)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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