Bolivia president Morales says rivals preparing ‘coup’

Speaking from the rural village of Vila Vila, Morales warned that “various sectors of society... are preparing for a coup d’etat next week.” (File/AFP)
Updated 28 October 2019

Bolivia president Morales says rivals preparing ‘coup’

  • The court said Morales had won with 47.1 percent compared to 36.5 percent for Mesa
  • Mesa called for a strike on Monday to protest what he said was a fraudulent election

LA PAZ, Bolivia: Bolivia’s President Evo Morales claimed on Sunday his political rivals were preparing to overthrow him next week as strike action and protests against his controversial re-election continued.

It was the second time in five days that the leader has warned of a coup, and it comes after Bolivia’s electoral court declared him the winner of last Sunday’s poll over his nearest challenger, Carlos Mesa.

The court said Morales had won with 47.1 percent compared to 36.5 percent for Mesa — narrowly giving him the 10-point margin he needed to win outright without a runoff.

But a sudden and unexplained change in the ballot count Monday had boosted his advantage, leading the election court’s own vice president to resign in protest.

Speaking from the rural village of Vila Vila, Morales warned that “various sectors of society... are preparing for a coup d’etat next week.”

Mesa called for a strike on Monday to protest what he said was a fraudulent election.

“All of us have to be determined, without any hesitation, to go out into the street to show that we don’t accept fraud,” Mesa said to a crowd of about 500, speaking in a church in San Miguel, an affluent neighborhood in southern La Paz.

Meanwhile, a powerful farmers’ union announced plans to block roads on Monday “in defense of the indigenous vote” to support Morales.

Foreign powers including the European Union and the United States have called for a second round of voting, while the Organization of American States (OAS) expressed its “surprise” and “concern” over the sudden vote shift.

The Washington-based OAS is planning an audit of the results.

Mesa, a former president backed by a collective of centrist and right-wing parties, has rejected the official tally, calling it “a breach of the popular will.”

The poll triggered a week of violent protests, with rival supporters clashing with security forces and each other in La Paz and elsewhere.
Mesa has called on his supporters to maintain their street protests.

Thousands of demonstrators blocked streets in major cities around the country on Saturday, erecting barricades and waving the red, yellow and green Bolivian flag.
Morales urged those who accuse him of fraud to provide evidence.

“We aren’t hiding anything, we aren’t lying,” he said on Saturday.

Morales had said earlier that he would be happy to contest a second round — and do so “the next day” — if anyone provided evidence of fraud.

His candidacy was itself a scandal. The Bolivian constitution limits a president to two successive terms, but this was Morales’s fourth election victory.

Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Morales lost a referendum in 2016 in which he tried to remove term limits from the constitution, but a year later the Constitutional Court authorized him to stand for a fourth term.

The court, like the election tribunal, is made up of members appointed by Morales’s Movement for Socialism party.

As things stand, Morales — already the longest-serving leader in Latin America, will continue to lead his country until 2025.


Former head of US election security calls Trump team fraud allegations ‘farcical’

Updated 12 min 20 sec ago

Former head of US election security calls Trump team fraud allegations ‘farcical’

  • Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232 and by over six million in the popular vote
  • Trump and his lawyers continue to allege, without evidence, that the election was stolen through widespread fraud

LOS ANGELES: The top US cybersecurity official fired by Republican President Donald Trump for saying the Nov. 3 election was the most secure in American history said on Friday voter fraud allegations made by Trump and his allies are “farcical.”
Chris Krebs, the former director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, told the CBS 60 Minutes program that allegations of US voting machines being manipulated by foreign countries were baseless.
Sidney Powell, a Trump attorney cut loose by the Trump legal team this week, had put forward a conspiracy theory that election systems created in Venezuela at the behest of the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez helped tip the US election to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
She and others have also alleged that voting machines had flipped votes from Trump to Biden and some US voting information was stored on servers in Germany.
“All votes in the Unites States of America are counted in the United States of America. Period,” Krebs said, in an excerpt broadcast on CBS Evening News. The full 60 Minutes interview will air on Sunday. Krebs was fired by Trump on Nov. 17 after calling the election the “most secure in American history.”
“There’s no evidence that any machine that I’m aware of has been manipulated by a foreign power,” Krebs said, calling such allegations “farcical claims.” He added: “The American people should have 100% confidence in their vote.”
Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. He leads Trump by over six million in the popular vote.
Trump and his lawyers continue to allege, without evidence, that the election was stolen through widespread fraud and Trump is the winner. Trump said on Thursday he will leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for Biden.