The electoral authority in Bolivia in turn called on voters on Sunday evening to be “patient” in the face of the extremely slow release of the results of the presidential election, a poll which took place peacefully after a year serious political crisis.
“For an election so delicate for the future of the country, we must privilege the certainty concerning the electoral results”, declared the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Salvador Romero, during a press conference broadcast on television.
While welcoming the good conduct of the ballot, “a successful day for Bolivian democracy”, Mr. Romero recalled “that the official count is done with the arrival of the minutes” in the departmental electoral courts and that “it takes time. time “.
At 11:00 p.m. local time (03:00 GMT), more than five hours after the polling stations closed, the results were known for just 1.7% of them.
Previously, the interim president, Jeanine Añez, had already asked voters to show “patience” and “not to provoke violence”, ensuring that the results would be “credible”. The government had indicated earlier that the poll had taken place “in peace throughout the country”, apart from a few isolated incidents.
The slowness of the dissemination of the results results from the decision on Saturday of the electoral court not to use a rapid count via photos of the minutes sent from the polling stations allowing to have preliminary results, but to favor a complete manual count in departmental centers, to avoid tensions.
The president of the TSE, however, indicated in his speech that the media were allowed to broadcast exit polls, which had not yet been done.
For the first time in 20 years, Evo Morales (2006-2019), emblematic leader of the South American left, is not a candidate for the presidency. On November 10, 2019, he resigned in the midst of a political crisis, accused of fraud by the opposition, while he was running for a fourth term.
His runner-up and ex-Minister of the Economy, Luis Arce, 57, candidate for the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), and his main rival, the centrist ex-president Carlos Mesa, 67, are the favorites among six candidates.
Both have expressed their questions about the decision of the Supreme Court.
This last-minute suspension “is not very judicious”, “it could generate doubts” on the results, estimated Mr. Arce, when voting.
“This is not ideal, but we understand that (the electoral court) chose this path to guarantee the absolute safety of the vote and especially the official count” of the votes, reacted Mr. Mesa.
Mr. Arce is the frontrunner in the first round, but should not escape a second round, scheduled for November 29, according to the latest campaign polls.
“What do we want to hide? “
Some 7.3 million Bolivians were called upon to elect their president, but also their vice-president, and to renew the Parliament, currently dominated by the MAS.
However, many Bolivians fear a repeat of the post-election violence that left 36 people dead last year. They have rushed in recent days to shops to stock up.
“I really don’t know what’s going to happen, I’m afraid it will be even worse,” Virginia Luna, 41, told AFP.
From Argentina where he is a refugee, Evo Morales, who could not stand for re-election, himself launched on Sunday a call for “the results of the elections to be respected by all”.
However, he wondered during election night: “more than an hour after the deadline for the publication of exit polls, the (polling) institutes do not do it. Why are you late? What do we want to hide? “, He launched on Twitter.
To ensure the transparency of the ballot, the composition of the electoral tribunal has been renewed. Observers were dispatched by the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the Carter Foundation, among others.
The EU, in a statement congratulated the Bolivians for the “peaceful” election on Sunday and asked them to await the results “avoiding any provocation or violent action that would jeopardize or attempt to distort the current electoral process”.
The Constitution declares winner in the first round the candidate who obtains the absolute majority or 40% of the votes with an advantage of 10 points on the second. Otherwise a second round takes place.
In 2019, the count was suspended for more than 20 hours. Upon his resumption, Evo Morales was declared the winner in the first round.
The opposition had denounced fraud and clashes had taken place between supporters and detractors of the MAS. Dropped by the police and the army, Evo Morales finally resigned, before fleeing to Mexico and then to Argentina.