The president of the TSE, Salvador Romero, reported that the suspension of the new Preliminary Results Dissemination system (DIREPRE) was determined because the results of the tests do not allow to be sure of the quick count. The Direpre had been created specifically to provide the initial results of the October 18 vote and to replace the controversial Transmission of Preliminary Results (TREP) system, which was highly questioned as it remained almost a day without issuing data and suddenly resumed with a result in favor of the then president Evo Morales.
“The TSE has carried out, in the course of the last weeks, the tests and drills for the DIREPRE. And we want to inform the country that, the test results they do not allow us to have the security of the complete dissemination of the data that offers certainty to the country. That is why with technical seriousness and motivated with responsibility, the TSE has decided to withdraw the DIREPRE from the voting day, ”explained Romero. He also added that the decision has been made unanimously by the plenary chamber of the TSE in the understanding of that the tests and drills for the DIREPRE did not offer all the confidence.
“It is important, an indispensable stage and (the tests) were developed in the times that were foreseen, and when the reports of the drills were known, we privileged certainty over speed.”
“The objective of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is to have a count that is safe for all citizens, safe for competing political organizations and that the results are reliable,” said the president of the electoral body. He also asked the population for patience, because the official results will be “slower” but with the “full certainty” that they are those issued by the citizens.
Romero promised that to report on the official data, they will work “all Sunday night and the hours on Monday that are necessary.” In addition, he assured that all people will be able to observe this counting process: “Any citizen will be able to photograph the minutes electoral, political organizations that have delegates have the right to a copy of the act, the count and scrutiny will be carried out in public ”.
“We are going to do our best to move forward on Sunday night. The counting and scrutiny will not be paralyzed as long as there are still records that can be computed and this process will be restarted, if necessary, first thing on Monday, ”he explained.
A decision that adds tension
Nerves are on the surface, which has generated an artificial shortage of gasoline in cities, with long lines of vehicles at service stations, AFP journalists observed. There is an unusual demand for gas cylinders for home use and a growing influx of people into markets and supermarkets to stock up.
In the central city of Cochabamba there were riots on Thursday when police used tear gas, amid the outbreak of firecrackers, to break up a demonstration over local disputes unrelated to the election campaign.
There is also fear among some Bolivians due to the warnings issued by leaders of the Movement for Socialism (MAS), by Morales and Arce, that they would defend democracy in the streets if their candidate lost due to an alleged electoral “fraud”.
The UN, the European Union and the Catholic Church called on Bolivians to vote in peace in Sunday’s elections to prevent a repeat of the acts of violence that mourned the country after the annulled 2019 elections.
The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, called on Bolivians “to commit themselves to holding peaceful elections” and to respect “the final results of the vote.” He also stressed that the elections must be “transparent, credible, participatory and inclusive, within a framework of full respect for civil and political rights,” according to a UN statement.
For her part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that Bolivians should vote “in peace, without intimidation or violence.” “Nobody wants the events of last year to be repeated,” Bachelet added about the riots stemming from allegations of fraud in the October 2019 elections, in which Morales was seeking his fourth term. The social upheaval in October and November left more than 30 dead and 800 injured. Bachelet also expressed her “deep concern” about “inflammatory language and threats” in the campaign and “about the growing number of physical attacks.”
The UN joined another call from the Bolivian Catholic bishops and the European Union to “avoid violence during and after the electoral process, so as not to create a climate of confrontation and aggression that prevents the successful completion of the current democratic transition process.”
Seven million Bolivians are summoned to the polls and some 300,000 are authorized to vote abroad, more than half of them in Argentina. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least 28,000 will not be able to exercise their right in cities in northern Chile. The leftist Luis Arce, the dolphin of Evo Morales, and the former centrist president Carlos Mesa are the candidates with the best chances of winning the elections, after a campaign marked by polarization between followers and detractors of the former Aymara president, now a refugee in Argentina.
To win in the first round, more than 50% of the votes are needed, or 40% and 10 points of difference with the second. If there is a ballot, it will be held on November 29.