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Bolivian President Resigns After Weeks of Protests Over Disputed Election

LA PAZ—Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Nov. 10 that he would resign after the military called on him to step down and allies tumbled away amid a fierce backlash over a disputed election that has roiled the South American nation.

Morales, the countrys leader for nearly 14 years, said in televised comments that he would submit his resignation letter to help restore stability, though he aimed barbs at what he called a “civic coup.”

The head of Bolivias armed forces earlier on Sunday said the military had asked Morales to step down after weeks of protests over the Oct. 20 presidential election, which was won by Morales.

“We suggest the President of the State renounce his presidential mandate, allowing peace to be restored and the stability maintained for the good of our Bolivia,” said General Williams Kaliman, the commander of Bolivias armed forces.

“Likewise, we ask the Bolivian people and mobilized sectors to shed attitudes of violence and disorder among brothers so as not to stain our families with blood, pain, and mourning.”

Earlier on Sunday, Morales had agreed to hold new elections after a report from the Organization of American States (OAS), which conducted an audit of the Oct. 20 vote, revealed serious irregularities in the election.

The OAS report said the October vote should be annulled after it had found “clear manipulations” of the voting system that called into question Moraless win, with a lead of just over 10 points over main rival Carlos Mesa.

Today We Won a Battle

The election turmoil threatens to topple Morales, a survivor of Latin Americas leftist “pink tide” two decades ago, and could ripple around the region at a time when left-leaning leaders have returned to power in Mexico and Argentina.

Morales, speaking at an earlier news conference, tried to placate critics by saying he would replace the countrys electoral body for the new vote, though his opponents—already angry that he ran in defiance of term limits—were not assuaged.

Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the eastern city of Santa Cruz who has become a symbol of the opposition, said the OAS report clearly demonstrated election fraud. He reiterated his call for Morales to resign.

“Today we won a battle,” Camacho told a crowd of cheering supporters in the capital, though he added more time was needed to repair the constitutional order and democracy. “Only when we can be sure that democracy is solid, then will we go back home.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had welcomed the call for a new vote to “ensure free and fair elections.”

“In order to restore credibility to the electoral process, all government officials and officials of any political organizations implicated in the flawed Oct. 20 elections should step aside from the electoral process,” he said in a statement.

Morales Allies Fall

As the fall-out from the audit report swept across Bolivia, there were signs that Moraless support was waning fast.

Several of his allies resigned, including Mining Minister Cesar Navarro and Chamber of Deputies President Victor Borda, who belongs to Morales party. They both cited fear for the safety of their families as the reason for stepping down.

Juan Carlos Huarachi, leader of the Bolivian Workers Center, a powerful pro-government union, said Morales should stand down if that would help end recent violence.

“If it means resigning to bring peace to the Bolivia people, then Mr. President we should do it,” he said.

In recent days police forces were also seen joining anti-government protests, while the military said it would not “confront the people” over the issue after a weeks-long standoff.

The attorney generals office also announced it had ordered an investigation with the aim of prosecuting the members of the electoral body and others responsible for the irregularities.

When questioned about whether he would be a candidate in the new election, Morales told a local radio station “candidacies must be secondary; whRead More – Source

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