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Bolivia to hold presidential vote May 3: electoral tribunal

By AFP | January 4th 2020

Interim leader Jeanine Anez has been overseeing a caretaker government since Evo Morales fled the country for Mexico. [AFP]

Bolivians will choose a new president May 3, more than six months after a disputed election sparked violent street protests and the resignation of Evo Morales.

Interim leader Jeanine Anez has been overseeing a caretaker government since then, after Morales fled the country for Mexico.

The new presidential election will be "the first Sunday of May, I can let you know that much," said the vice president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Oscar Hassenteufel.

Once complete, the electoral schedule will include dates for registration of candidates, the campaign timeframe, rules on advertising, and rules on a potential second round.

Bolivia has been in turmoil since presidential voting on October 20. Morales' insistence after 14 years in power that he had been elected to a fourth term in a widely disputed vote prompted massive and violent street protests.

On November 10, after losing the army's backing, Bolivia's first indigenous president resigned and fled to Mexico, before moving on to Argentina.

Morales, a socialist, told AFP on December 24 that he was forced from power by a US-backed coup d'etat aimed at gaining access to the South American country's vast lithium resources.

Demand for lithium is expected to grow globally as it is one of the key components in batteries used in high-tech equipment such as laptops and electric cars.

Bolivia does have the largest confirmed lithium resources in the world, but they are widely thought to be of poor quality, and the country lacks the infrastructure to exploit them profitably.

Morales' Movement for Socialism (MAS) party has named him campaign chief for the upcoming poll.

Morales said a new MAS candidate will be picked during a party assembly on January 15, which could be held in either Bolivia or Argentina.

Whoever the candidate is, Morales says he wants the next election to be monitored by international organizations.

So far, there are several pre-candidates for the May vote.

A survey in late December by the newspaper Pagina Siete found the young coca leaf grower Andronicus Rodriguez, considered Morales' political heir, was leading with 23 per cent of voter preference, followed by conservative Carlos Mesa, with 21 per cent.

Rodriguez is still awaiting a final decision from his party and from Morales.

Former foreign minister David Choquehuanca also wants to be a MAS candidate.

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