Another day of potentially violent nationwide anti-government protests are to be expected on Friday, October 25, following the official announcement that President Evo Morales has won a fourth term in office. Tensions will almost certainly increase, particularly in La Paz, Santa Cruz, and Cochabamba.
Violent protests were reported in central La Paz and Cochabamba on Thursday, October 24, amid an ongoing indefinite strike in the country. In La Paz, the main protests are usually held at the main square, Plaza Murillo. Notable clashes were, however, reported in Plaza Avaroa and at the Higher University of San Andrés (UMSA). Protests were also reported in Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, Tarija, and Potosí. The protests involved clashes between police and protesters. Police used tear gas in several areas to disperse protesters. Fireworks were also seen used by protesters in protest footage. Some of the protests include groups supporting Morales, demanding that the public respect the election results.
Roadblocks and closures have also been reported throughout the affected areas, resulting in significant transportation disruptions across the country, tough especially in major urban centers.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in the coming hours and days across La Paz and other major urban areas. Transportation and business disruptions are almost certain over the next several days. Further protests are likely - particularly in and around the capital. Clashes between security forces and protesters cannot be ruled out.
The constitution states that a candidate is elected president with no need for a runoff if they obtain 50 percent of the vote or has over 40 percent with a ten-point advantage over the next candidate. The electoral confrontation and mismanagement is likely to drive increasing distrust in the government.
The TSE halted its provisionary vote count on Sunday, October 20, after 83 percent of the ballot was completed. Initial results indicated that President Evo Morales was short of securing the 10-percentage point lead needed to prevent a runoff election. However, on Monday, October 21, the TSE updated the count, indicating that President Evo Morales secured 46.85 percent of the vote against his primary rival Carlos Mesa, who received 36.73 percent, preventing a runoff. Political opposition supporters are accusing the TSE of manipulating the vote in favor of Morales.
Individuals in Bolivia, particularly in La Paz and Santa Cruz, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests due to the risk of violence, prepare for disruptions to transportation and business, and adhere to any instructions issued by the local authorities.
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