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Bolivia: Post-Coup Regime Postpones Elections Again, Social Movements Call For Mass Mobilization

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Bolivia: Post-Coup Regime Postpones Elections Again, Social Movements Call For Mass Mobilization

Bolivia’s social movements have convened a mass protest for Tuesday and warned that a general strike and indefinite blockade may be called if the original schedule for elections is not restored

The interim post-coup regime in Bolivia, installed last November in a rushed ceremony presided over by the commander in chief of the Armed Forces before he resigned and went to live in the United States, has once again postponed elections for the presidency and national assembly.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Bolivia (TSE) has announced that it has decided to postpone the general elections that had been scheduled for September 6 until October 18, based on “scientific, legal and socio-political considerations.”

The national electoral authority justified the postponement of the elections, the third time they have been delayed, due to the health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. The original election date was scheduled for May 3, before being postponed to August 2 and then to September 6.

The tribunal also affirmed that its decision does not require the authorization of the Legislative Assembly to endorse the new date of the electoral process.

An eventual second round of voting, should it be necessary, would take place on November 29 and the possession of the newly elected authorities is now scheduled to take place in December. LINK

From the first moments of the coup in November 2019, when the commander of the armed forces forced President Evo Morales to resign and the police and military took to the streets to suppress mass demonstrations against the coup, there has been a widespread persecution and arrest of hundreds of political and social leaders from the former presidents political party (MAS) as well as from other social movements. In the first weeks of the coup, the Senkata massacres occurred in El Alto and Sacaba in Cochabamba, during which more than 30 people died and nearly a thousand were injured.

It is likely that the interim regime and State officials will disqualify the MAS from participating in the forthcoming elections. However, political and social leaders have made clear that a new coup attempt will lead to a situation of confrontation with the people fully mobilized.

The Unity Pact (Pacto de Unidad), an alliance formed by the numerous well-organized Indigenous and farmers’ social organizations in Bolivia, has called for a great march next Tuesday, July 28, against the postponement of the elections in Bolivia.

The Executive Secretary of the COB, Juan Carlos Huarachi, warned that the postponement of the elections will not be allowed. Huarachi confirmed the declaration by the powerful social movement of a state of emergency and that the first major mobilization has been scheduled for the 28th of July.

The Executive Secretary of the Confederation of Intercultural Communities of Bolivia, Henry Nina, blamed the mobilizations on the actions of the ‘defective government’ and on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for failing to respond in a timely manner to the people’s requests with respect to the health crisis and for failing to call the elections on the date already established.

Similarly, one of the top leaders of the CSUTCB, Teodoro Mamani, also did not rule out that after the march on Tuesday an open peoples’ assembly would declare the beginning of a general strike and indefinite blockade against the de facto government’s decision to once again postpone elections in complicity with the electoral tribunal.

The political party of ousted president Evo Morales, MAS, has vowed that if the elections do not take place as scheduled on September 6 there will be a general mobilization.

The MAS members in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the national parliament, declared that the announcement of the electoral tribunal is an abuse of power and unconstitutional, as it is required to consult with the national legislature.

“The announcement of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is an abuse of power and an arbitrary act, it violates laws 1266, 1297 and 1304 that establish that the TSE can establish the date of elections at the latest on the 6th of September 2020. This unilateral and arbitrary decision, bypassing the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, exposes the members of the tribunal to future accountability measures”, says the MAS statement.

In addition, the deputies recalled that “the establishment of the date of elections for the 6th of September 2020 was the result of an agreement promoted by the TSE itself with the political parties and in which the health factors of the pandemic and the due biosecurity measures for the election day were taken into account. Moreover, elections have already been held successfully in other countries such as the Dominican Republic on July 5.”

The deputies’ statement also declared that the date of September 6 provided certainty to the Bolivian population and an opportunity to resolve the ongoing political crisis. Moreover, as it was the result of an agreement between the different political actors, there is no obstacle preventing it from being discussed within the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

“The holding of national elections is urgently needed to resolve the political crisis that we have endured since late last year. It was the obligation of the transitional government to promote elections from the outset and in the shortest possible time, given that its only mission was to call elections and not to make other decisions that are not within its competence.”

They further claimed that the interim regime is using the pandemic for political purposes to extend its term in power for as long as possible and thereby prolonging the unprecedented economic, political and health crisis that Bolivia faces. LINK

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