Bolivia announces October 18 presidential election following earlier calls

Bolivia announces October 18 presidential election following earlier calls

On Thursday, Bolivia’s caretaker government passed a law mandating a postponed presidential election to be held on October 18 as planned, prompting opposition demands for earlier movement. Any move to change the date will be subject to criminal penalties under statute. Tensions are brewing as the South American nation heads for a re-run of a controversial October 2019 vote that triggered demonstrations and prompted the resignation of former leader Evo Morales.

Bolivia ‘s electoral tribunal in July postponed the election to Oct. 18 because of the coronavirus pandemic but Morales supporters are pushing for the vote to be held on Sept. 6. The conflict sparked demonstrations and roadblocks. The influential Bolivian Workers’ Center (COB), an umbrella organization representing various sectors, immediately opposed the new legislation. Leading COB chief Juan Carlos Huarachi said the law “was never accepted with the people.”

In a joint statement the United Nations and the European Union expressed support for the date of October. The main candidate for the election is Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party and a fractured conservative opposition, including interim President Jeanine Anez, who took over last year in a power vacuum promising swift new elections.