World Media

Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns amid poll fraud protests

A demonstrator kicks a tear gas canister thrown by the police during a protest against President Evo Morales' reelection in La Paz Bolivia Thursday

Morales, Latin America's longest-standing leader, won the election on October 20 but the vote count had been inexplicably halted for almost a day, sparking allegations of fraud and leading to protests, strikes and road blocks.

Bolivia's military chief earlier called for the Bolivian president to resign so that stability can be restored after weeks of protests over his disputed election.

Speaking on national television, General Kaliman also appealed to Bolivians to desist from violence.

Morales said he chose to "convene new national elections so that through the vote the Bolivian people will be allowed to democratically elect their new authorities, involving new political actors", he said at a news conference according to the Bolivian Information Agency. A 24-hour lapse in releasing results raised suspicions of vote-rigging.

Morales declared himself the outright victor, before official results showed he obtained just enough support to avoid a runoff with ex- president Carlos Mesa.

That begged the question whether Morales would stand again for re-election, a source of controversy because Bolivia's constitution, which he promulgated himself a decade ago, limits presidents to two terms.

Morales described the ongoing demonstrations as an attempted coup staged by the right-wing opposition.

The country's top court, considered by critics as friendly to the president, ruled that limits would violate Morales' political rights as a citizen, AP pointed out.

Several of his allies resigned, including Mining Minister Cesar Navarro and Chamber of Deputies President Victor Borda, who belongs to Morales' party.

The call aimed "to preserve life and democracy" in the wake of violent protests by the opposition, said Morales at a press conference held at the presidential hangar operated by the Bolivian Air Force in El Alto, Bolivia's second-largest city.

The man Morales claimed to have defeated, opposition leader and former President Carlos Mesa, said the OAS report showed "monstrous fraud", and he added that Morales "can't be a candidate in new elections".

Bolivian Minister of Defense Javier Zabaleta said a "police mutiny occurred in a few regions", but he rejected the idea of a military intervention "at this time".

Meanwhile, demonstrators on Saturday burst into the offices of the media outlets Bolivia TV and Radio Patria Nueva and forced employees to leave, accusing them of serving the interests of Morales, AFP news agency quoted Ivan Maldonado, the director of Radio Patria Nueva, as saying.

"I cried with joy", he said on Twitter. He also called on supporters to join peaceful rallies.