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World Bolivia's vote a high-stakes presidential redo amid pandemic

08:45  18 october  2020
08:45  18 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Bolivia has been in turmoil since last year’ s presidential election. Morales, accused of having rigged the vote , was forced to step down by the Bolivian army. He was succeeded by a conservative interim government headed by Jeanine Anez, who kept postponing fresh elections due to the coronavirus

Amid a pandemic and months of political turmoil, Bolivians say a tense calm The fraught rerun of Bolivia ’ s presidential elections comes at a time of deep divisions in the South American country The leading contenders in the October 18 vote are former Economy Minister Luis Arce, the Movement for

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivians vote Sunday in a high-stakes presidential election redo that could determine its democratic future and bring a return of socialism to the country as it struggles with a raging pandemic and protests over last year’s annulled ballot.

A billboard promoting presidential candidate Carlos Mesa of the Citizen Community political party towers over a trio of women in Rio Seco, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) © Provided by Associated Press A billboard promoting presidential candidate Carlos Mesa of the Citizen Community political party towers over a trio of women in Rio Seco, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) A woman begs for alms in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) © Provided by Associated Press A woman begs for alms in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Bolivia, once one of the most politically volatile countries in Latin America, experienced a rare period of stability under former President Evo Morales, the country’s first Indigenous president who resigned and fled the country late last year after his claimed election win was annulled amid allegations of fraud. His ouster set off a period of unrest that caused at least 36 deaths. Morales called his ouster a coup.

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LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia ' s general election will be pushed back until Oct. 18 as the coronavirus pandemic "This election requires the highest possible health security measures to protect the health of In a political vacuum and amid deadly conflicts on the street, right-wing lawmaker Jeanine Anez

Bolivia ’ s plan to hold elections in September is increasingly in doubt amid rising coronavirus deaths , and The election tribunal, which has not yet commented on the letter recommending a postponement of the vote , decides on Is Bolivia ' s 'interim' president using the pandemic to outstay her welcome?

A graffiti of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorns a wall prior to Sunday's elections, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) © Provided by Associated Press A graffiti of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorns a wall prior to Sunday's elections, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Sunday’s vote is a re-run of last year’s election and an attempt to reset Bolivia’s democracy.

“Bolivia’s new executive and legislative leaders will face daunting challenges in a polarized country, ravaged by COVID-19, and hampered by endemically weak institutions,” said WOLA, a Washington-based human rights advocacy organization.

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has urged Bolivians to respect the electoral process, and in particular the final result.

Ballots, ballot boxes and other materials were delivered to polling stations Saturday by police and military units without incident, officials said. Police and soldiers took to the streets hours later seeking to ensure calm.

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  National elections loom after a brutal year for Bolivia It started with allegations of fraud amid contested national elections. Then came claims of a coup. An incumbent president was exiled, protests paralyzed the country, and an economy that had been a Latin American success story showed serious signs of decline. © LUIS GANDARILLAS/AFP via Getty Images Employees of the Electoral Court, guarded by the Military Police, load a truck with electoral material to be distributed for Sunday's general election, in La Paz, on October 16, 2020.

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and the two-term presidential limit that the Bolivian Constitutional Tribunal had nullified, the Bolivian opposition and After weeks of repelling protesters at the Casa Grande del Pueblo presidential palace, units of the Police Operations Tactical Unit (UTOP) tasked with defending Morales assembled

A bread vendor waits for customers in a market in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) © Provided by Associated Press A bread vendor waits for customers in a market in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

The country's Supreme Electoral Court announced late Saturday that it had decided unanimously against reporting running preliminary vote totals as ballots are counted. It said it wanted to avoid the uncertainty that arose when there was a long halt in reporting preliminary results during last year's election.

Council President Salvador Romero said promised a safe and transparent official count, which could take five days.

To win in the first round, a candidate needs more than 50% of the vote, or 40% with a lead of at least 10 percentage points over the second-place candidate. A runoff vote, if necessary, would be held Nov. 28.

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Police in several major cities in Bolivia have joined protesters in calling for the ouster of president Evo Morales, who is accused of falsifying election

This Wednesday will witness the world' s first major election under the COVID-19 pandemic . Across South Korea, voters will decide who fills the 300 seats of the National Assembly. And what' s at stake ?

A child walks past a defaced election poster promoting presidential candidate Luis Arce representing the Movement Towards Socialism political party better known by its acronym MAS, in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia) © Provided by Associated Press A child walks past a defaced election poster promoting presidential candidate Luis Arce representing the Movement Towards Socialism political party better known by its acronym MAS, in El Alto, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Bolivia’s entire 136-member Legislative Assembly also will be voted in.


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The election was postponed twice because of the coronavirus pandemic. On a per capita basis, few countries have been hit harder than impoverished, landlocked Bolivia: Nearly 8,400 of its 11.6 million people have died of COVID-19.

The election will occur with physical distancing required between masked voters — at least officially, if not in practice.

The leading contenders are former Economy Minister Luis Arce, who led an extended boom under Morales, and former President Carlos Mesa. a centrist historian and journalist who was second to Morales in the disputed returns released after last year’s vote. Trailing in all the polls has been Luis Fernando Camacho, a conservative businessman who helped lead last year’s uprising, as well as a Korean-born evangelist.

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Bolivia . holiday break to 11 February for higher education institutions and 10 February for others.[216]. Many Indonesians criticised the government for a slow response and downplaying the pandemic .

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die. 'My feeling is it' s lower,' Dr Horby added. The outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the 'worldwide spread of a new disease'.

An electoral court worker stands next to election material at a distribution center in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Bolivia will hold general elections on Sunday, Oct. 18. A presidential election on Sunday gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) © Provided by Associated Press An electoral court worker stands next to election material at a distribution center in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Bolivia will hold general elections on Sunday, Oct. 18. A presidential election on Sunday gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Overshadowing the vote is the absence of Morales, who led Bolivia from 2006 until 2019 and was a key figure in the bloc of leftist leaders who held power across much of South America. Morales, now exiled in Argentina, was barred from running for the presidency or even the Senate by electoral authorities following his ouster.

He chose Arce as his stand-in for the Movement Toward Socialism party, and a win by the party would be seen as a victory for Latin America's left.

A boyhood llama herder who became prominent leading a coca grower’s union, Morales had been immensely popular while overseeing an export-led economic surge that reduced poverty during most of his term. But support was eroding due to his reluctance to leave power, increasing authoritarian impulses and a series of corruption scandals.

Election posters promoting presidential candidate and one of two leading contenders Luis Arce, representing the Movement Towards Socialism political party better known by its acronym MAS, cover a pole in El Alto, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. The presidential election on Sunday gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) © Provided by Associated Press Election posters promoting presidential candidate and one of two leading contenders Luis Arce, representing the Movement Towards Socialism political party better known by its acronym MAS, cover a pole in El Alto, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. The presidential election on Sunday gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

He shrugged aside a public vote that had set term limits, and competed in the October 2019 presidential vote, which he claimed to have narrowly won outright. But a lengthy pause in reporting results fed suspicions of fraud and nationwide protests broke out.

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When police and military leaders suggested he leave, Morales resigned and fled the country.

Posters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorn a wall in El Alto, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Bolivia will hold general elections on Sunday, although Morales is not a candidate. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) © Provided by Associated Press Posters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorn a wall in El Alto, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. Bolivia will hold general elections on Sunday, although Morales is not a candidate. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Conservative Sen. Jeanne Áñez proclaimed herself president and was accepted by the courts. Her administration, despite lacking a majority in congress, set about trying to prosecute Morales and key aides while undoing his policies, helping prompt more unrest and polarization.

A billboard promotes presidential candidate Carlos Mesa of the Citizen Community political party, in La Paz, Bolivia, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. Sunday's presidential election gives Bolivians a chance for a political reset as they struggle with the dramatic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Juan Karita): A graffiti of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorns a wall prior to Sunday's elections, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita) © Provided by Associated Press A graffiti of former Bolivian President Evo Morales adorns a wall prior to Sunday's elections, in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

She dropped out at as a candidate for Sunday's presidential election while trailing badly in polls.

Most polls have shown Arce with a lead, though likely not enough to avoid a runoff.

There is a strong chance the next president will struggle with a divided congress — and perhaps worse, an opposition that refuses to recognize defeat.

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