Morales won’t run for a fourth term
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Morales won’t run for a fourth term

Voters in Bolivia have rejected a constitutional amendment by a slim margin that would have let President Evo Morales run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019.

Bolivian government’s election website says the vote was 51 percent to 49 percent against the ballot question, with 98.5 percent of the ballots counted.

The outcome of Sunday’s referendum also blocks Vice President Alvaro Garcia from running for office again.

The vote count had been unusually slow and Vice President Alvaro Garcia said the election would be a “cliff-hanger.”

He claimed a right-wing conspiracy was “trying to make disappear by sleight of hand the rural vote that favors Morales.” Garcia provided no evidence to back the claim.

Morales has during a decade in office helped lift millions out of poverty by more equitably distributing natural gas revenues, spurring the creation of an indigenous middle class.

But his governing leftist party has been buffeted by scandal.

Organization of American States observers reported no evidence of fraud, as some in the opposition claimed. The delegation issued a statement calling for calm and reminding Bolivians that official channels exist for filing complaints.

Government transparency in the vote count has been questioned.