Latin America

Bolivia election transparent, Arce’s victory overwhelming: OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) has declared Bolivia’s presidential election transparent and Luis Arce’s incoming government strongly legitimate.

Manuel Gonzalez, the head of the observer mission for the OAS, made the remarks in a video posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday, following Arce’s victory in Bolivia’s twice-postponed elections on Sunday.

“People voted freely and the result was clear and overwhelming, granting strong legitimacy to the incoming government, to Bolivian institutions, and to the electoral process,” he said.

Arce, who hails from the Movement for Socialism (MAS) Party, bagged more than 50% of the votes, an unofficial count indicated on Monday.

The big win for Arce negated earlier opinion polls that had predicted that the election would go to a run-off.

Arce was running against former centrist president Carlos Mesa, who gained second place with some 31.5% of the votes.

Arce is considered the heir to former leader Evo Morales.

Last year, Morales was ousted from power amid protests against his fourth-term presidential victory. He was forced to resign in November 2019 under pressure from the military and following the opposition’s challenging of the victory that he had secured in the presidential election.

The ex-president sought exile in Mexico back then and is currently residing in Argentina.

The election victory now by Morales’ largely indigenous MAS Party has focused attention on the former president’s return back to Bolivia from exile.

Arce’s victory also brings to an end the year-long interim presidency of rightist Jeanine Anez, who withdrew from the race a month ago amid growing criticism over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than 8,400 people dead and 130,000 infected in Bolivia.

Landlocked Bolivia, which remains among the poorest countries in Latin America despite its rich natural resources, is experiencing its worst economic crisis in 40 years, with its GDP expected to contract by 6.2 percent in 2020.

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