News ID: 260658
Published: 0337 GMT October 23, 2019

Morales claims election victory, blasts opposition 'coup'

Morales claims election victory, blasts opposition 'coup'

Bolivian leader Evo Morales on Wednesday claimed victory in the presidential election and accused the opposition of trying to orchestrate a coup, after mass opposition-led protests since the Sunday vote that claimed the counting was rigged.

The latest official vote count showed Morales with 46.49%, with nearly 97% of the ballot processed, 9.5 points ahead of main rival Carlos Mesa, but still just short of the 10-point lead necessary to win outright and avoid a riskier second round run-off, Reuters reported.

Demonstrators, angry at what they saw as an attempt by the government to rig the vote, had protested en masse in capital city, La Paz, outside where the electoral board was processing the last remaining ballots.

In an early-morning speech at the government office in La Paz, Morales criticized the violence, which he blamed on the opposition and what he said was foreign backers.

“I have called this conference to denounce in front of the Bolivian people and the entire world that a coup d’etat is in progress. In advance, the right had prepared with international support for a coup,” he said.

Unrest in the country began after an official vote count was disrupted by a near 24-hour halt late on Sunday, when Morales claimed his party would win outright despite initial numbers showing the two main rivals heading to a second round.

The uncertainty over the election has rocked the land-locked nation, which has gone through almost 14 years of relative stability and growth since Morales came to power in 2006 as the country’s first indigenous leader.


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