“I have decided to call new elections,” Evo Morales announces, without citing the OAS report. In the streets, Police retreat before demonstrators
HAVANA TIMES – Bolivian president Evo Morales announced on Sunday a call for new general elections. The surprise message followed the release of an Organization of American States (OAS) preliminary report that recommends the repetition of the first round of the elections held on October 20, which declared Morales the winner.
In a brief appearance in which he did not cite the incriminating OAS report, Morales assured that the new vote will be held with a renewed electoral body, recognizing the accusations of fraud that occurred in the previous balloting.
“I have decided to call new elections,” said the president from the presidential hangar at the international airport of El Alto, a city adjacent to La Paz.
The president appeared accompanied by representatives of social movements akin to his government and said he had consulted them before making the decision.
All members of the electoral court will be revoked
The head of State said that he decided to revoke all the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which the opposition and civic committees accuse of electoral fraud in the victory it granted to Morales for a fourth consecutive mandate until 2025.
Morales said that the Bolivian Parliament is the competent body to renew the top election authorities, and will soon begin the process to appoint new members.
Morales declared that in the next electoral process, without specific dates, will be carried out by “new political actors.”
The president emphasized that he adopted this decision to call new elections to “lower tension” and “pacify Bolivia.”
The OAS report on the elections in Bolivia
The Organization of American States (OAS) recommended this Sunday the repetition of the first round of elections held in Bolivia on October 20, which had Evo Morales as the winner, but whom the opposition accuses of electoral fraud.
In a statement, the organization advises that the electoral process in the Andean country should begin again, making “the first round as soon as there are conditions that give new guarantees for its celebration, including a new composition of the electoral body.”
“The first round of elections held on last October 20 (in Bolivia) should be annulled and the electoral process must begin again,” urges the OAS note.
The organization is drafting a report on the circumstances in which the electoral process took place and which led to a wave of violence in the country.
“The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States is constantly following the many aspects of the situation in Bolivia while, in the face of the tensions experienced in the country. It requested the audit team to do their maximum effort to advance the results of the report being prepared.”
The OAS General Secretary’s office notes that the situation in the Andean country “requires governmental leaders (primarily) and politicians of the different options, as well as all institutions, to act in accordance with the Constitution, with responsibility and respect for peaceful means.”
The complaints of electoral fraud
Bolivia suffers a serious crisis since the proclamation of Morales as president of the country for a fourth consecutive term following the October 20th general elections.
The opposition and civic movements denounced that there was an electoral fraud. They demand the resignation of the president and the call for new elections.
Protests since the day after the elections have caused at least three dead in clashes between supporters and opponents of the president, and 384 wounded, according to data from the “Defensoria del Pueblo” (People’s Ombudsman Office).
The OAS recognizes that “the right to peaceful protest must be protected and guaranteed, while the institutions of the Bolivian State must act in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of the country.”
“The most valuable thing to keep in mind at this time is the right to life of Bolivians and avoid any violent confrontation between fellow citizens,” the organization cites.
The OAS reiterates, however, its “willingness to cooperate in the search for democratic solutions for the country.”
It also recognizes that “it’s detailed final report on the matter is still pending, as it is being processed in accordance with the established premises” and understands that “the constitutional mandates should not be interrupted, including that of President Evo Morales.”
EU: elections must be “credible”
The European Union (EU) has asked to avoid violence in the demonstrations that Bolivia is experiencing since the first round of elections on October 20th. It advocates organizing “credible” elections to solve the country’s crisis.
“In light of the continuing protests in Bolivia, the European Union underlines the need for the demonstrations to remain peaceful. Violence should be avoided, as it will not bring a solution to the current crisis,” said the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, in a statement hours before Morales’ announcement of new elections with new electoral authorities.
The situation can only be resolved “through peaceful negotiations, a credible electoral process that ensures that the will of the people and strong democratic institutions are respected,” Mogherini added.