(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Sunday cited “irregularities” in an Oct. 20 election that would give Bolivian President Evo Morales a fourth term and urged authorities to hold a second round of voting between the incumbent and the main opposition candidate.
“We are deeply concerned over irregularities in the vote-counting process of #Bolivia’s Oct 20 elections,” Pompeo said on Twitter. “We call on #Bolivia to restore electoral integrity by proceeding to a 2nd round of free, fair, transparent, & credible elections with the top two vote winners.”
Bolivian electoral officials have said Morales narrowly won enough votes to beat his main rival, Carlos Mesa, by the 10 percentage point threshold needed to avoid a run-off election in December, which he could lose against a united opposition.
But questions surfaced about the result of the first round of voting after updates of a preliminary vote count were mysteriously suspended for 24 hours, triggering protests and accusations of fraud.
The Organization of American States identified flaws in the electoral process and called for a second round of voting in December. The EU said it “fully shares” the concerns. The OAS has accepted Morales’s invitation to verify the results.
The U.S. had already joined the governments of Brazil, Colombia and Argentina in a joint statement saying they were “deeply worried” by anomalies in the ballot counting. But Pompeo’s intervention on Sunday raised the pressure further.
Morales has presided over more than a decade of growth and falling poverty, but this election has been his closest to date. His respect for democracy was questioned after he ignored the result of a 2016 referendum, which would have restricted presidential term limits.
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