Morales looms large in Bolivia’s October election

Several polls show his party in the lead

September 26, 2020 11:06 pm | Updated 11:06 pm IST - LA PAZ

Even in exile, Evo Morales looms over Bolivia’s election next month.

National rifts that contributed to chaos in Bolivia in 2019 threaten to destabilise the October 18 vote and its aftermath nearly one year after Mr. Morales, Bolivia’s first Indigenous President from the Aymara group, was forced to resign following disputed vote results, protests, violence and a military call for him to go.

The country is divided mainly along ethnic, regional and socioeconomic lines, and between those who applaud Mr. Morales as a voice for the historically poor and disenfranchised and those who say he became increasingly corrupt and authoritarian during 14 years in power. The interim government that replaced him has also been accused of undermining Bolivia’s democratic institutions, including the judiciary.

The feud has reverberated outside the landlocked country of 12 million people, echoing ideological divisions from an era when the political left and right in Latin America were more clearly defined.

In a speech to the virtual U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, interim President Jeanine ĭũez accused neighbouring Argentina, where Mr. Morales is in self-exile, of systematic and abusive harassment of Bolivia’s institutions and supporting a “violent conspiracy” led by the former President.

Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said it was regrettable that ĭũez, who has withdrawn from the Bolivian election race, would try to involve Argentina in her country’s internal politics and urged her to focus energy on ensuring transparent elections.

The party that Mr. Morales founded, Movement for Socialism( MAS) controls the Congress and is a powerful contender. Its presidential candidate, Luis Arce, is a former Economy Minister who oversaw a nationalisation programme when Mr. Morales was president.

Several polls indicate the Movement for Socialism would lead in the round of voting next month.

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