OAS Urges Bolivia to Hold New Elections as Unrest Grows

Fabiola Zerpa

(Bloomberg) -- The Organization of American States called for new elections in Bolivia as protests over the contested October vote escalated with police mutinying in several cities.

Widespread irregularities found during the vote mean it’s statistically unlikely that President Evo Morales obtained a 10% lead to avoid a runoff, the OAS said in a report published on its website Sunday. The president had previously said he’d respect the results of the audit if it proved evidence of fraud.

Before the OAS report, Bolivia’s Armed Forces reassured the nation that it supports a peaceful solution to the country. The army would “never confront the people,” Armed Forces commander Williams Kaliman said at a press conference in La Paz. “Current political problems have to be solved according to the high interests of the Fatherland before reaching irreversible moments.”

Morales on Saturday called for peace after police joined protests to contest the legitimacy of his Oct. 20 election victory. Police stopped guarding the presidential palace on Saturday, allowing protesters to congregate outside, the AP reported earlier.

Police in Cochabamba, Chuquisaca, Beni, Santa Cruz, Potosi and Oruro joined protests challenging the results of the election, and officials said they wouldn’t act against a population that has become increasingly disgruntled, according to the newspaper La Razon.

“Our democracy is at risk due to a coup d’etat that violent groups have launched and undermines the constitutional order,” Morales said in a Twitter post.

“I call upon the four political parties that have seen their lawmakers elected to sit down and hand out a peaceful solution later, or tonight, through dialog,” Morales said.

Carlos Romero, Bolivia’s minister of government affairs, said he was confident that discussions with police officials would appease them, according to the newspaper.

At least two people have died in demonstrations over the results of the vote in which Morales secured a fourth presidential term. Opponents argue votes were falsified and are pressing for a second round of elections.

(Recasts with OAS report calling for new elections.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Fabiola Zerpa in Caracas Office at fzerpa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Walter Brandimarte at wbrandimarte@bloomberg.net, Linus Chua, Virginia Van Natta

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.