Bolivians appear to reject Morales’ bid to remain in office; some blame a U.S. conspiracy, others say a scandal involving an old lover did him in

Feb 23, 2016 | 9 comments

Although votes from some rural communities remain to be counted, it appears that Bolivian President Evo Morales’ bid to continue in office have failed. Monday night, with more than 85% of the vote counted, 54% of voters had said no to a constitutional amendment that would have allowed Morales to run again.

Evo Morales at Sunday press conference.

Evo Morales at Sunday press conference.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and some Morales’ supporter are blaming the apparent loss on a U.S.-led conspiracy but others say it is the results of a recent scandal involving Morales.

The president’s popularity took a hit following the revelation that one of his former lovers holds a high-paying job with a Chinese engineering firm that has done more than $500 million of business with Bolivia.

Gabriela Zapata, with whom Morales fathered a child, has been made a campaign topic in recent weeks by those opposed to the constitutional amendment.She is employed by CAMC, an international Chinese company.

Morales has yet to concede defeat, saying he will wait until all the vote is in.

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In a news conference, Morales said that although most of the country’s cities had been accounted for, results from the countryside would boost his support. “They don’t like us much in the city, but the first results give me hope,” he said.

Sunday’s vote asked voters if the constitution should be changed to allow Morales – Bolivia’s first indigenous president – to run in the 2019 election and potentially remain in power until 2025.

Although Morales, unlike Venezuela’s Maduro, is not blaming the U.S. for his poor showing, he is claiming that his opponents “conducted a dirt war,” mostly through social media.

“We are anti-neoliberal, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and this upsets many peole. This struggle will continue whether the ‘yes’ or the ‘no’ wins. It will never be abandoned,” Morales said.

Another factor hurting Morales, some political analysts say, is that he has favored his indigenous group, the Aymara, over other groups.

Election monitors form the Organization of American States said the election has been conducted fairly, without interference from political forces. They say they will stay in Bolivia until all votes are counted.

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