Bolivia's Morales announces fresh elections after weeks of protests
Bogota - Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced fresh elections, the ABI news agency reported on Sunday, following weeks of protests against alleged fraud in last month's presidential poll.
"I have decided to call for new national elections so that the Bolivian people can elect its new government in a democratic manner," he was quoted as saying.
The Andean country has seen weeks of unrest and rioting against alleged fraud in the election on October 20. Three people have been killed and more than 300 injured.
The electoral authority stopped publishing preliminary results when they pointed to a run-off between Morales, a leftist, and his centre-right challenger Carlos Mesa.
Morales was later declared winner in the first round, with 47.08 per cent of the vote compared to 36.51 per cent for Mesa, according to the electoral authorities.
The result just gave Morales the lead of 10 percentage points constitutionally required to be declared winner without a run-off.
The opposition accuses the government of electoral fraud. International observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) also questioned the outcome of the election in a report published on Sunday and called for fresh elections under a new electoral authority.
Morales, who has rejected calls for him to resign, is Bolivia's first indigenous and longest-serving president, holding office since 2006, and previously won three mandates in first election rounds.
The former coca farmer recently spoke of a coup attempt by violent groups.
Policemen have reportedly rebelled against him in several areas of the country. Opposition leader Luis Fernando Camacho thanked the police on Twitter for being on the side of the people.
Bolivia has flourished under the left-wing president, with the exploration of gas and lithium giving the previously impoverished South American country annual growth rates at times of more than 6 per cent.
But the increasingly autocratic and authoritarian behaviour of the president is meeting resistance among Bolivians. Above all, people in the economically strong east of the country feel cheated by Morales.
In the face of the conflict, Pope Francis has called for prudence. Francis comes from Argentina, Bolivia's southern neighbour.
## Note to editors - adds details on election fraud allegations and unrest, background
## Internet links - [OAS report, in Spanish](http://dpaq.de/vMsbc)
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## Editorial contacts - Reporting by: Jutta Lauterbach and Denise Sternberg in Berlin - Editing by: Rachel More, +49 30 2852 31472,
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