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Bolivian President Evo Morales  Resigns Amid Violent Protests Set Off By a Disputed Election

 

President Evo Morales, who came to power in Bolivia over a decade ago as part of a leftist wave sweeping Latin America, resigned on Sunday after unrelenting protests by an infuriated population that accused him of undermining democracy by clinging to office.

The beginning of the end for Morales came on Friday night, when a smattering of small police units made dramatic pronouncements that they were breaking from the government and joining protesters angry over suspicions that the Oct. 20 election had been rigged.

On Sunday, the Organization of American States, which monitored the Oct. 20 election, issued a preliminary report that outlined irregularities and said the vote should be annulled.

Also on Sunday, the army chief in Bolivia has urged Morales to step down.

Morales was once widely popular, and stayed in the presidency longer than any other current head of state in Latin America. He was the first Indigenous president in a country that had been led by a tiny elite of European descent for centuries, and he shepherded Bolivia through an era of economic growth and shrinking inequality, winning support from Bolivians who saw him as their first true representative in the capital.

But his reluctance to give up power — first bending the country’s laws to stand for a fourth election, then insisting that he won despite widespread concerns about fraud — left him besieged by protests, abandoned by allies and unable to count on the police and the armed forces, which sided with the protesters and demanded he resign.

 

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