LA PAZ: Bolivian President Evo Morales resigned Sunday under mounting pressure from the military and the public after his re-election victory triggered weeks of fraud allegations and deadly protests.
The decision came after a day of fast-moving developments, including an offer from Morales to hold a new election. But the crisis deepened dramatically when the country’s military chief went on national television to call on him to step down.
“I am sending my resignation letter to the Legislative Assembly of Bolivia,” the 60-year-old socialist leader said.
He added: “I ask you to stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking.”
Before Morales had even finished his statement, car horns began sounding in La Paz and other cities, and people took to the streets to celebrate, waving Bolivian flags and setting off fireworks.
Morales was the first member of Bolivia’s indigenous population to become president and was in power for 13 years and nine months, the longest term in the country’s history.
But his claim to have won a fourth term last month set off unrest that left three people dead and over 100 injured in clashes between his supporters and opponents.
Earlier in the day Sunday, the Organization of American States said in a preliminary report that it had found a “heap of observed irregularities” in the Oct. 20 election and that a new vote should be held.
Morale agreed to that. But within hours, military chief Gen. Williams Kaliman made it clear that would not be sufficient.
“After analysing the situation of internal conflict, we ask the president to resign, allowing peace to be restored and stability to be maintained for the good of our Bolivia,” Kaliman said.