Bolivia: demonstration against Luis Arce’s presidential victory

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Several hundred people unhappy with the victory of leftist candidate Luis Arce in the Bolivian presidential election demonstrated on Tuesday in Santa Cruz, in eastern Bolivia.

• Read also: Bolivia: Arce will be the future president, Morales “sooner or later” in the country

• Read also: Bolivia: Luis Arce, dolphin of Evo Morales, winner of the presidential election

Mr Arce, candidate of the Movement towards Socialism (MAS) of former President Evo Morales, won the presidential election in the first round on Sunday, largely beating his main opponent, the former centrist president Carlos Mesa.

Bolivia: demonstration against Luis Arce's presidential victory

“It’s a fraud, as Evo Morales has always done,” Yeni, a participant in the demonstration held in Santa Cruz, the richest city in Bolivia and a candidate’s stronghold, told AFP from the right also beaten in the first round, Luis Fernando Camacho.

Luis Arce’s victory “is like a slap in the face,” said another protester, Yasmani Acosta.

Bolivia: demonstration against Luis Arce's presidential victory

Carlos Mesa acknowledged his defeat, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres hailed “peaceful elections”, calling on all Bolivian politicians to work for “national reconciliation”.

Mr. Arce, political heir of Evo Morales, who has lived in exile in Argentina since his resignation in 2019, won the presidential election in the first round with more than 53% of the vote, beating Mr. Mesa (29%) and Mr. Camacho (14%), according to partial official results relating to 84% of the vote, while the counting continued on Tuesday evening.

The triumph of Mr. Arce surprised many Bolivians because the polls predicted a second round between him and Carlos Mesa.

Mr. Camacho, for his part, expressed doubts about the outcome. “We are living in moments of uncertainty created by a very poor administration of the electoral process,” he said on social networks.

Mr Camacho had been one of the leaders of the massive protest campaign which led to the resignation of Evo Morales in 2019.

The socialist president had just been declared the winner of the presidential election where he had run for a fourth term. But the opposition considered that the election was marked by fraud.

The unrest had left more than 30 dead and 800 injured, according to the UN. Finally, Mr. Morales, let go by the police and the army, resigned and left Bolivia. He currently lives in Argentina.

After his resignation, an interim power was set up, led by a right-wing senator, Jeanine Añez. She withdrew her candidacy for the presidential election shortly before the election.

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