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Bolivia election: Exit polls suggest win for Luis Arce

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Exit polls suggest socialist candidate Luis A..

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Presidential candidate Luis Arce of the Movement to Socialism party (MAS) reacts next to vice presidential candidate David Choquehuanca, who wears a protective face mask, after addressing the media during the presidential election in La Paz, Bolivia, October 19, 2020.image copyrightReuters

Exit polls suggest socialist candidate Luis Arce is set to win Bolivia's presidential election.

The polls indicate that Mr Arce, who is an ally of exiled former President Evo Morales, has won enough votes to stave off a second round.

Mr Arce has said he will form a "government of national unity".

There are deep divisions in Bolivia after last year's controversial election which ended in allegations of fraud and the exile of Mr Morales.

In order to win outright in the first round, a candidate needs to obtain 40% of the vote and have a 10-percentage-point lead over his nearest rival.

What do the polls say?

Exit polls carried out by the Jubileo research institution gave Luis Arce of the Mas party 53% of the votes, followed by centrist candidate Carlos Mesa of the Citizens' Community alliance with 30.8%.

Presidential candidate Carlos Mesa shows the electoral ballot when casting his vote in a precinct in the city of La Paz, Bolivia, 18 October 2020.image copyrightEPA

A quick-count by pollsters Ciesmori suggested Mr Arce had won with 52.4%, trailed by Mr Mesa with 31.5%.

If the polls are confirmed, Mr Arce will be the next president of Bolivia without the need for a second round of voting in November.

What has the reaction been?

Mr Arce, who has already claimed victory, said Bolivia had "recovered democracy", in a reference to last year's controversial election which was annulled after allegations of fraud.

Jeanine Áñez, who became interim president after the annulment, has congratulated Mr Arce and his running mate, David Choquehuanca.

Mr Áñez, who bowed out of the presidential race last month, wrote on Twitter: "We still do not have an official count, but from the data we have, Mr Arce and Mr Choquehuanca have won the election."

She added: "I congratulate the winners and ask them to govern with Bolivia and democracy in mind."

Why is the country so divided?

The divisions date back to 2016 when then-President Evo Morales held a referendum asking Bolivians whether the presidents should continue to be limited in the number of times they can run for office.

The result was a "no" to abolishing term limits. But Mr Morales's party took the issue to the constitutional court, which annulled the result of the referendum and scrapped the term limits, thereby allowing him to run for president in last year's election.

He was officially declared the winner, but protests erupted when the vote count was halted for 24 hours, prompting allegations of vote-rigging.

The protests continued for weeks and both the head of the army and of the police joined calls for Mr Morales to step down. He resigned on 10 November and shortly afterwards left for Mexico, from where he later moved to Argentina.

Ms Áñez, a right-wing senator, stepped in as interim leader but many supporters of Mr Morales accused her of seizing power illegally and have described the aftermath of the election as a right-wing coup.

Supporters of Bolivian former president (2006-2019) Evo Morales take part in a open deliberative meeting (Cabildo, in Spanish) asking for the resignation of President Jeanine Anez in El Alto, Bolivia, on August 14, 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemicimage copyrightGetty Images

The fact that the re-run of the 2019 election was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic further fuelled suspicions among supporters of Mr Morales that Ms Áñez was trying to cling on to power.

But in September, Ms Áñez announced that she was bowing out of the presidential election, saying she did not want to split the vote and see Mr Morales and Mr Arce's Mas party return to power.

Who is Luis Arce?

While Luis Arce had been the favourite to win in the first round it was not clear if he would win enough votes to avoid a run-off.

Before running for president, Mr Arce served as economy minister under then-President Morales.

As minister, he oversaw the nationalisation of Bolivia's mining, gas and telecommunications industries. Mr Arce also helped to launch the Bank of the South, of a regional development fund for infrastructure and social development projects.

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Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh receive Covid-19 vaccine

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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.

The inoculations were administered by a household doctor at Windsor Castle, a royal source said.
To prevent inaccuracies and further speculation, Her Majesty, who 94, decided that she would let it be known that she has had the vaccination, the source added. Her husband is 99 years old.
The couple’s son, Prince Charles, tested positive for coronavirus and went into isolation in March. The 72-year-old later said he was lucky to only experience mild symptoms, adding he’d “got away with it quite lightly.”
Meanwhile, their grandson Prince William, second-in-line to the British throne, also tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year, UK media reported, though exactly when he contracted the virus is unclear.
The UK has recorded more than 3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 80,000 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University on Saturday.
The UK reported 1,325 coronavirus-related fatalities on Friday — its highest ever daily increase in deaths.
Health officials face a deadly start to 2021 as a new coronavirus variant, first detected in the UK, sweeps the nation.
In the capital, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” on Friday, warning that hospitals in the city were close to being overrun.
“The situation in London is now critical with the spread of the virus out of control,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.
“The number of cases in London has increased rapidly with more than a third more patients being treated in our hospitals now compared to the peak of the pandemic last April.
“We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point,” Khan added. “If we do not take immediate action now, our [National Health Service] could be overwhelmed and more people will die.”

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Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger

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Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.

The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.

“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”

It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.

The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.

Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.

On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2021/01/03/dozens-killed-in-suspected-jihadist-attack-in-niger

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Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections

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People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.

The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.

He’s focussing on security and education.

Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.

“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.

Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.

Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.

Read from source: https://www.euronews.com/2020/12/27/niger-votes-in-presidential-and-legislative-elections

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