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Bolivia’s election turmoil: a timeline

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Morales seeks fourth term

On October 20, Bolivians go to the polls with Morales, Latin America’s longest serving leader, seeking a fourth straight term.

His only serious challenger is centrist Carlos Mesa, president between 2003 and 2005.

Second round?

Partial results released hours after polls close put Morales on 45 percent of the votes and Mesa 38 percent, with 84 percent of ballots counted.

A margin of 10 percentage points between candidates is required to avoid a second round runoff.

Vote count stalls

The release of official results is inexplicably stalled overnight.

On October 21, international observers ask for clarification and Mesa accuses Morales of cheating to avoid a runoff.

Opposition supporters protest outside key vote counting centers in the capital, La Paz, and in other cities.

– Count change –

Late October 21, the election authority releases more results showing Morales edging towards an outright victory with 95 percent of the votes counted.

Organization of American States (OAS) monitors express “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change.” Mesa alleges fraud.

Violence breaks out at protests in several cities. Mobs torch electoral offices in the cities of Sucre and Potosi.

Opposition strike

On October 22, opposition groups call for a nationwide general strike “until democracy and the will of the citizens are respected.”

The vice president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal resigns, criticizing what he calls mismanagement of the election count.

‘Coup’

On October 23, Morales likens the general strike to a right-wing coup.

Mesa urges his supporters to step up protests and insists a “second round must take place.”

He says he will not recognize the results tallied by the tribunal, which he accuses of manipulating the count to help Morales win.

Clashes break out between rival demonstrators in the opposition bastion of Santa Cruz, where offices housing the electoral authority are set on fire.

Morales declares victory

On October 24, Morales claims he has won outright.

In the evening, the election authority issues final results, giving Morales 47.08 percent of votes and Mesa 36.52 percent.

On October 31 the OAS begins an audit of the election results.

On November 8, police officers in at least three Bolivian cities join the opposition, in some cases marching in the street with them.

On November 10, the OAS announces that it found many irregularities in its analysis of the election.

Morales resigns

Two ministers and the speaker of congress resign after their homes are attacked. The commanders of the armed forces and the police add their voices to the calls for Morales to step down.

On the evening of November 10, from his native coca growing region in central Bolivia, Morales announces his resignation in a televised address.

The streets of La Paz explode in celebration, but violence and vandalism later erupt overnight.

Mexico refuge

Morales is granted political asylum in Mexico and arrives there on November 12. He says he was the victim of a “coup” and vows to stay in politics.

The constitutional next-in-line, deputy senate speaker Jeanine Anez, pledges to call fresh elections, but for her to be sworn in as interim president, senators must first reach La Paz, where public transport is virtually paralyzed.

Since the start of the protests, three people have died and more than 250 have been injured.

doc-eab/bgs

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