Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned Sunday amid growing opposition after an international audit found the results of last month’s election could not be validated due to “serious irregularities.”
“I regret this deeply,” Morales said, speaking on national television.
Morales will send his resignation letter to Congress in the next few hours, he said.
Demonstrators and the Bolivian opposition had accused electoral authorities of manipulating the vote count in favor of Morales, the country’s longtime socialist leader. Morales denied the allegations, but declared himself the winner.
Vice President Álvaro García Linera alsoannounced his resignation minutes after Morales. According to the Bolivian Constitution, the President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra Arriaza, 30, would be next in the line of succession. But it’s not clear if she will ascend to the presidency because of widespread opposition to Morales’ party.
In the hours after polls closed, preliminary results showed Morales slightly ahead of his opponent, former President Carlos Mesa. The tight margin would have prompted a runoff vote in December.
“The manipulations to the computer system (used in the elections) are of such magnitude that they must be deeply investigated by the Bolivian State to get to the bottom (of this issue),” the OAS said, in part.
The organization recommended new elections be held under the umbrella of “new electoral authorities in order to offer a reliable process.”
Calls for Morales’ resignation grew over the weekend. On Saturday, various police units joined those calls, while the head of the Bolivian Armed Forces, Commander Williams Kaliman, said his units would not confront protesters.
By Sunday Kaliman had gone a step further and asked Morales to resign in order to restore stability and peace.
Morales was one of the longest-serving heads of state in Latin America, is Bolivia’s first indigenous president. He won his first election with a campaign that promised a government focused on the needs of the country’s poor. But he was also accused of using the system to concentrate power.