Bolivians gathered for a fifth consecutive day of protests on Friday, October 25, following President Evo Morales' confirmed reelection victory in La Paz and other parts of the country.
Groups in La Paz gathered outside the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) headquarters, which riot police surrounded to protect. Roadblocks were also erected by protesters in many of the city's neighborhoods.
Santa Cruz was reportedly at a standstill on Friday, with significant transportation disruptions and limited public transport service. Clashes between Morales' supporters and the opposition were also reported. The leader of the Citizen Community party has called for indefinite protests until a second-round vote is convened. Protests were also reported in Cochabamba.
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 anticiapted 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 47.08 percent of the vote against his primary rival Carlos Mesa, who received 36.51 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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