Presidential elections take place in Bolivia

Presidential elections are making their way in Bolivia. Bolivians voted on Sunday in a high-stakes presidential election redo that could manage its democratic future and bring a return of socialism to the country as it struggles with a raging pandemic and protests over last years annulled ballot. Bolivia, once one of the most politically unstable countries in Latin America, underwent a rare period of stability under former President Evo Morales, the country's first Indigenous president who resigned and fled the country late last year after his claimed election win was annulled amid allegations of fraud.

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His ouster set off a period of uncertainty that caused at least 36 deaths. Sundays vote is a re-run of last year's election and an attempt to reset Bolivias democracy. Bolivias' new executive and legislative leaders will face daunting difficulties in a polarized country, captured by COVID-19, and embarrassed by endemically weak institutions, said WOLA, a Washington-based human rights advocacy organization. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has requested Bolivians to respect the electoral process, and in particular the final result.

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Ballots, ballot boxes and other materials were delivered to polling stations Saturday by police and military units without incident, officials said. Police and soldiers took to the streets hours later seeking to ensure calm. The country’s Supreme Electoral Court announced late Saturday that it had decided unanimously against reporting running preliminary vote totals as ballots are counted. It said it wanted to avoid the uncertainty that arose when there was a long halt in reporting preliminary results during last year’s election. Council President Salvador Romero said promised a safe and transparent official count, which could take five days.

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