Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to resign Sunday after calls by senior military and police officials for him to step down. Morales won elections held on October 20th that were called into question by the Organization of American States (OAS), who determined in an audit there were "clear manipulations."
After the OAS revealed their findings on Sunday, Morales agreed to hold fresh elections and said he would replace members of the electoral board thought to be responsible for the alleged fraud. These concessions were not good enough for Morales’s opposition, who along with the military demanded his immediate resignation.
The claims of election fraud stem from a 24-hour pause in the vote count on election day after 84 percent of the vote was tallied. After the pause, the data was updated, and it showed Morales with a 10 percent lead, which he needed for an immediate victory to prevent a run-off vote. The OAS report found Morales had a favorable increase in the last five percent of the votes that was not consistent with the first 95 percent.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a think-tank based in Washington, released their own detailed report on the election on Friday. The CEPR found "no evidence that irregularities or fraud affected the official result that gave President Evo Morales a first-round victory."
The CEPR argument for the increase in Morales votes towards the end was geography. The areas where the votes were counted before the 24-hour pause have a history of being friendlier to Morales’s opposition.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement after the OAS announced their conclusion that said, "We fully support the OAS and Bolivian calls for new elections and a new Electoral Tribunal that can ensure free and fair elections that reflect the will of the Bolivian people. In order to restore credibility to the electoral process, all government officials and officials of any political organizations implicated in the flawed October 20 elections should step aside from the electoral process."
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a statement on Morales’s resignation Monday. Rubio said, "The resignation of Evo Morales is a testament to the strength and the will of the Bolivian people. As I stated earlier this month, Morales was illegitimately holding on to power in Bolivia after the recent presidential elections."
President Trump released a statement on Monday that said, “The resignation yesterday of Bolivian President Evo Morales is a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere … These events send a strong signal to the illegitimate regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua that democracy and the will of the people will always prevail. We are now one step closer to a completely democratic, prosperous, and free Western Hemisphere.”
Morales was running for a controversial fourth term, which would normally exceed the president’s term limit in Bolivia. But in 2017, the highest court in Bolivia ruled against term limits, making it legal for Morales to run again.
Morales’s Vice President and the president of the Senate also resigned, which are the two positions meant to succeed the president if the office is vacant. And Since Morales’s term would have ended in January, there is currently nobody holding the office of president in Bolivia.
Bolivia is one of the few South American countries that continues to recognize Nicolas Maduro as the president of Venezuela, breaking with most OAS members. Morales often railed against US imperialism at the UN, most notably at a UN Security Council meeting in 2018 in front of President Trump.
The US Congress funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has a strong presence in Bolivia. In 2018, the NED spent nearly one million dollars on programs in Bolivia, with titles like, "Democratic Development From A Private Sector Perspective," "Strengthening Democratic Values," and "Building Political Party and Civil Society Capacity for a More Participatory, Competitive Electoral Process."
Dave DeCamp is assistant editor at Antiwar.com and a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.