LA PAZ (Reuters) – Supporters and opponents of Bolivian President Evo Morales each ended a day of protests with giant rallies on Monday, as Morales’ election rival Carlos Mesa assured backers he was headed to both jail or the presidency.
A supporter attends a rally by Bolivian presidential candidate Carlos Mesa in La Paz, Bolivia October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Bolivia has been convulsed by protests since Oct. 20, when its Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) abruptly suspended the publication of outcomes from an digital depend that ultimately gave Morales a fourth time period, resulting in accusations of fraud.
With 84% of votes counted, polling confirmed Morales was doubtless headed to a runoff with Mesa, his chief rival and a former president. Nonetheless, when reporting of the depend resumed after a pause of almost 24 hours, it confirmed Morales had pulled off a razor-thin victory.
The ultimate, legally binding vote tally gave him 47.08% of votes to Mesa’s 36.51%, lower than a share level greater than the 10-point lead wanted to keep away from a runoff and giving him one other five-year time period.
5 protesters in industrial Santa Cruz, the place individuals have been on strike since final Wednesday, suffered gunshot wounds. Police stated they have been in search of one man they imagine to have prompted the accidents.
Each Morales, who has been in workplace almost 14 years and is Latin America’s longest-serving chief, and Mesa spoke to seas of flag-waving supporters at rallies late on Monday, every accusing the opposite of inciting violence.
Morales, talking in El Alto outdoors the capital, repeated his declaration of victory, whereas Mesa doubled down on accusations of fraud in entrance of a crowd in southern La Paz.
“They accuse me of producing violence, mendacity shamelessly,” Mesa stated to applause. “I’m right here – I’ll go to jail or to the presidency!”
“We now have determined to confront the authoritarianism, on the best way to a dictatorship, the authoritarianism that seeks to rob us of an election,” he stated.
Mesa instructed Reuters in an interview earlier on Monday strikers wouldn’t settle for negotiations to finish protests and that Morales wished to remain in energy indefinitely, one thing the president had beforehand denied.
Morales lamented at his rally that “some teams don’t acknowledge the triumph of the Bolivian individuals. They aren’t the bulk, they’re small teams.”
“Some ask for strikes till Evo goes. Some say new elections, others a second spherical … they should perceive that we received within the first spherical,” he stated.
The opposition has restricted time to take down barricades within the capital earlier than the president’s supporters do, lawmaker Freddy Mamani stated at Morales’ rally.
Morales reiterated a promise his authorities made on the weekend to have the Group of American States audit the election.
Morales, 60, has stated he would go to a second spherical of voting if irregularities have been discovered, but in addition that rural supporters may put cities beneath siege. The TSE and Morales deny any election fraud.
Strikers within the capital, La Paz, and different cities blocked roads and colleges and retailers have been closed as protesters from opposing sides yelled and pushed one another in skirmishes on in any other case empty streets.
The opposition-controlled mayor’s workplace in La Paz, which has 1,000,000 inhabitants, was additionally shut.
Residents created street blocks utilizing automobiles, picket planks, rope and even dumpsters in each the middle-class south and working-class north of the town, in line with Reuters witnesses.
“We’re demanding that our vote be revered,” stated protester Marta Colque, 32, who works at a daycare middle, including Morales wished to “keep perpetually.”
Morales supporters in Santa Cruz used rocks and sticks to confront police and opposition protesters amid clouds of tear fuel.
Reporting by Vivian Sequera and Daniel Ramos; Further reporting by Monica Machicao and Sergio Limachi in La Paz and Ueslei Marcelino in Santa Cruz; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb in Bogota; Enhancing by Alistair Bell, Invoice Berkrot and Paul Tait