Bolivia's Morales declares election victory

1mo ago


Evo Morales has won a third term as Bolivia's president with a landslide win, according to an unofficial quick count of the vote. Morales, a native Aymara from Bolivia's poor Andean plateau, received 59.5 percent of Sunday's vote against 25.3 percent for cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina, the top vote-getter among four challengers, according to a quick count of 84 percent of the voting booths by the Ipsos company for ATB television. Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor Lucia Newman, reporting from La Paz, said Morales’s ecstatic supporters waved flags, set off firecrackers and sang songs, celebrating his victory. "Morales, who has been struggling to recover from a bad cough, spoke to his supporters from the balcony of the presidential palace," she said. "He thanked them for supporting the 'fight for liberation’ and vowed to continue his fight against imperialism and capitalism. He also said that in this third term he would build a nuclear power plant 'for peaceful energy purposes' and turn Bolivia into an energy hub." Morales, a former coca grower, has promised to consolidate his brand of "indigenous socialism" that has extended the role of the state in a booming natural gas-powered economy. He has pledged to consolidate his socialist system that has expanded the role of the state in the economy and sharply reduce poverty levels. Economic growth has averaged five percent annually, well above the regional average. Nearly six million Bolivians cast their ballots on Sunday in presidential and congressional polls. Morales was more than 40 points clear of his rival in the pre-election public polls. Commodities boom Since Morales first came to office in 2006, a boom in commodities prices has increased export revenues ninefold and the country has accumulated $15.5bn in international reserves. Morales' rivals accuse him of using his power to control the courts and of violating the constitution which limits a president to two consecutive terms. Last year, the Supreme Court decreed his 2006-2009 period in office should not be counted as a first term as it preceded the adoption of the new constitution. Opponents criticised the decision. Morales has also drawn opposition from environmentalists and many former indigenous allies by promoting mining and a planned jungle highway through an indigenous reserve. Despite Bolivia's economic advancements, it remains one of South America's poorest countries and many economists think it depends too much on natural resources. In the first half of 2014, natural gas and minerals accounted for 82 percent of export revenues. Last year, Transparency International's perception index ranked Bolivia as South America's third most corrupt country after Venezuela and Paraguay, and Morales' opponents say he has spent millions in government money on his campaign, giving him an unfair advantage.