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26 Oct, 2019 00:18

Confirmed as winner, Bolivia’s Morales invites international community for election audit after opposition says vote was rigged

Confirmed as winner, Bolivia’s Morales invites international community for election audit after opposition says vote was rigged

Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales invited the international community to audit the presidential election results, as opposition cried fraud and burned ballots, while Washington cast doubt on results.

Bolivia's election authority confirmed the final tally for the contentious vote on Friday, handing Morales his fourth presidential term. However, protests continued around the country. A 24-hour pause in the vote count earlier this week sparked allegations of tampering, which have brought tens of thousands of opposition activists into the streets to contest the outcome, at times clashing with police.

Also on rt.com Bolivia’s Morales celebrates election win amid opposition claims of fraud & ongoing mass demonstrations

Morales avoided a second-round runoff with his rival Carlos Mesa by just a fraction of a point and denies the accusations of fraud. He said on Friday that international auditors would be free to inspect the final tally and the vote counting process.

“Let them come here, let them know how much they have earned [...] We never lie or hide,” he said, but added elsewhere that the world community had “the obligation to respect our Political Constitution of State, they have to respect the will of the Bolivian people.”

The remarks were directed at the Organization of American States (OAS) – based in Washington, DC – which previously expressed “deep concern” and “surprise” over the delayed vote tally. More recently, OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro argued the election result should not be considered valid until an audit is complete.

In a joint statement issued on Thursday, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and the United States (all OAS members) called for a second round of voting in the event a proper audit could not be carried out.

Mesa, a former president and Morales’s main challenger, said on Friday that he would lodge a formal complaint with the Supreme Election Tribunal over the result, which he condemned as a “massive fraud.” He has encouraged his supporters to reject the outcome as well.

Also on rt.com Bolivia opposition candidate contests election count as rival protesters & police clash in streets (VIDEOS)

Opposition protesters have barricaded roadways across six of Bolivia’s nine provinces, with clashes between rival demonstrators and police breaking out in Cochabamba and Santa Cruz, where at least 25 were arrested on Friday. Thousands also gathered around a vote counting station in La Paz late on Thursday, for protests and street skirmishes. The president has slammed the demonstrations as an attempted coup.

Compared to its neighbors Chile and Ecuador – both currently gripped by protests over economic woes – as well as its ally Venezuela, Bolivia has seen relative success under its mixed socialist system, with its economy steadily growing at just under four percent annually in recent years. The government has also kept inflation relatively low, perhaps learning from Venezuela’s example, and made efforts to slash public debt.

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