Bolivian president Evo Morales resigned from the Presidency today after almost 14 years in power, through a video transmitted from an undisclosed location.
Hours earlier on Sunday morning, Morales had announced the holding of new elections with a new Electoral Tribunal. The declaration followed a report by the Organization of American States (OAS), which confirmed fraud in the elections held in October. Morales didn’t refer the preliminary report.
Vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera, also resigned from his post.
Morales and Linera appeared together by surprise in a video in which they also call for the pacification of the country.
In announcing his resignation Evo Morales regretted a “civic coup” taking place and that the police had retreated to their barracks in recent days.
Morales asked opposition leaders Carlos Mesa and Luis Fernando Camacho, whom he accuses of urging a coup d’etat to throw him out of power, to “not mistreat” the Bolivian people and “stop kicking them.”
“We don’t want confrontations,” he added, while he said he resigned to promote the “pacification” of Bolivia and “return to social peace.”
On Sunday morning, Morales announced the call for new general elections, following the preliminary OAS report that recommends the repetition of the first round of the elections held on October 20, which supposedly made him the winner without the need for a runoff.
Morales also assured that the new vote would be held with a renewed electoral body, taking into account the allegations of fraud in the first round to which the current authorities are accused.
President of the Electoral Tribunal also resigns
Hours after Morales’ first announcement, the president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) of Bolivia, Maria Eugenia Choque Quispe, presented her “irrevocable” resignation, and said she does it to undergo “any investigation,” after an OAS report which indicates “alleged irregular events” in the elections of October 20.
In a letter addressed to Vice President Alvaro García Linera, Choque reaffirmed her “will for a fair investigation in compliance with the country’s human and regulatory rights.”
The OAS issued a report early in the day that warns of serious irregularities in the tabulation of the election results, after which the electoral body said President Evo Morales had won a fourth consecutive term without need for a runoff vote.
“The audit team cannot validate the results (..), so another electoral process is recommended,” says the report.
“I have learned of the report of preliminary findings and in that context, I present my irrevocable resignation,” said the now former president of the Electoral Tribunal.
“In order to submit to any investigation that is necessary to clarify my firm conviction that I have not taken any action to alter the sovereign will of the Bolivian people,” she concluded in her letter to the vice president, who also resigned minutes after Morales.
At the time that the resignation of Choque was known, police arrived at the headquarters of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal to gather information after the announcement by the Attorney General’s Office of the prosecution of the members of the TSE for “very serious” irregularities detected by the OAS, which can lead to “criminal and electoral wrongs linked to the tabulation of official results”.
Several members of the Government and other governing party politicians, such as governors and mayors, also announced their resignation in the last hours.
The main opposition leaders had warned that they would not accept new elections if the president didn’t resign before. Morales has been in power since 2006 and represents the longest presidency in the history of Bolivia.