Bolivia’s Election Turmoil: A Timeline
Bolivian President Evo Morales has resigned after three weeks of turmoil stemming from a disputed October 20 election in which he was declared the winner, giving him a fourth straight term.
Here is a recap of the tensions leading to his dramatic move.
Morales seeks fourth term
On October 20, Bolivians go to the polls with Morales, Latin America’s longest serving leader, seeking a fourth straight term.
His only serious challenger is centrist Carlos Mesa, president between 2003 and 2005.
Partial results released hours after polls close put Morales on 45 percent of the votes and Mesa 38 percent, with 84 percent of ballots counted.
A margin of 10 percentage points between candidates is required to avoid a second round runoff.
Morales has won all his previous elections in the first round.
Vote count stalls
The release of official results is inexplicably stalled overnight with 84 percent of votes counted.
On October 21, international observers ask for clarification and Mesa accuses Morales of cheating to avoid a runoff.
Opposition supporters protest outside key vote counting centers in the capital, La Paz, and in other cities.
Late October 21, the election authority releases more results showing Morales edging towards an outright victory with 95 percent of the votes counted.
Organization of American States (OAS) monitors express “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change.” Mesa alleges fraud.
Violence breaks out at protests in several cities. Mobs torch electoral offices in the cities of Sucre and Potosi, while rival supporters clash in La Paz.
On October 22, opposition groups call for a nationwide general strike from midnight “until democracy and the will of the citizens are respected.”
The vice president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal resigns, criticizing what he calls mismanagement of the election count.
There are new clashes between protesters and security forces in La Paz.
On October 23, Morales likens the general strike to a right-wing coup.
Mesa urges his supporters to step up protests and insists a “second round must take place.”
He says he will not recognize the results tallied by the tribunal, which he accuses of manipulating the count to help Morales win.
Clashes break out between rival demonstrators in the opposition bastion of Santa Cruz, where offices housing the electoral authority are set on fire.
Security forces and demonstrators also clash elsewhere.
Morales declares victory
On October 24, Morales claims he has won outright.
In the evening, the election authority issues final results, giving Morales has 47.08 percent of votes and Mesa 36.52 percent.
The opposition, the EU, the US, OAS, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia urge a second round.
Fresh clashes take place between rival groups, along with road blocks and demonstrations.
On October 27, Morales says that there will be no “political negotiation” and accuses his rivals of preparing a “coup”.
Call for ‘de-escalation’
On October 28, protests deepen with around 30 wounded in clashes with security forces and between supporters of Morales and Mesa at La Paz, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.
On the 29, the government invites Mesa to take part in an audit of the election results by the OAS, a body that works to promote cooperation in the Americas.
The United Nations calls for an urgent “de-escalation” of tensions.
As outrage grows, the OAS begins to audit the election results.
On November 3, an opposition leader vows to oust Morales and appeals to the military for its support.
The death toll in the protests rises to three on November 6 with the death of a student.
On the 8th, police officers in at least three Bolivian cities join the opposition, in some cases marching in the street with them.
On November 10, the OAS announces that it found many irregularities in its analysis of the election.
Morales calls a new election, but it is too late. Two ministers and the speaker of congress resign after their homes are attacked by opposition supporters.
The commanders of the armed forces and the police add their voices to the calls for Morales to step down.
On the evening of November 10, from his native coca growing region in central Bolivia, Morales announces his resignation after nearly 14 years in power.
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