The Latest: Bolivia’s Morales declares himself vote winner
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — The Latest on Bolivia’s elections (all times local):
Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared himself the winner of the country’s presidential election, saying he received the 10 percentage point lead over his nearest rival needed to win in the first round of voting.
With more than 98 percent of the votes counted from Sunday’s election, he said he had the votes needed to avoid a second round runoff against rival, ex-president Carlos Mesa.
In a press conference Thursday, Bolivia’s first indigenous president said: “We have won in the first round. With 1.5% (of the votes) left to count, we have won with the rural vote.”
Mesa immediately announced that he would form an alliance to “defend the vote” and alleged that Morales has perpetrated “a monumental fraud” to get re-elected to a fourth term.
Bolivian President Evo Morales edged early Thursday to the threshold he needs for an outright victory in his re-election bid after accusing his opponents of trying to stage a coup against him amid protests over the disputed and slow-moving vote count.
While votes remained to be counted, the leftist leader stood at the exact 10 percentage-point margin over his closest rival required to avoid a runoff ballot in December in which he could risk being defeated by a united opposition in his bid for a fourth consecutive term in office.
As the clock ticked into a new day, the official vote count moved him to a 10-point lead, with just under 2% of the votes from Sunday’s election still to be counted. He led former President Carlos Mesa 46.76% to 36.76%.
Morales’ percentage creeped up Wednesday although the number of votes counted had barely advanced since midafternoon, when authorities said the process had been hampered because of attacks on vote-count centers in three regions.
Mesa warned of fraud and international vote monitors expressed concern at an earlier unexplained daylong gap in reporting results before a sudden spurt in Morales’ vote percentage. Opposition backers continued to stage rowdy protests since the vote, while Morales’ backers staged a march in the capital to show their support for the president.