Bolivia’s Evo Morales was officially declared the outright winner of presidential elections Thursday after a disputed vote count that triggered violent protests and furious allegations of fraud from the opposition.
The United States, European Union and Latin American countries responded to the result, which would hand Morales a fourth successive term, by calling for a run-off vote to restore trust and confidence in the electoral process.
With 99.99 per cent of the ballots counted, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) declared Morales had secured 47.1 per cent of the vote, against 36.5 per cent for his closest rival Carlos Mesa — just scraping past the 10 point margin of victory required for an outright win.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) had expressed concern over the vote count, which first showed Morales and Mesa headed for a runoff, before shifting dramatically Monday to give the president a wider lead.
Violent protests have raged all week, and fresh clashes broke out Thursday between supporters of both sides in Santa Cruz, the economic capital and opposition stronghold.
The new mandate means Morales, already Latin America’s longest-serving president, will remain in power until 2025.
He stood for a fourth successive term despite Bolivia’s constitution limiting presidents to two consecutive mandates.
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