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LATIN AMERICA | 20-01-2020 13:30

Morales names MAS candidate for Bolivia presidential vote in May

Luis Arce, economy minister credited with steering Bolivia through years of economic growth, will be the presidential candidate for Morales' Movement Towards Socialism party in May 3 vote.

Former president Evo Morales announced in Buenos Aires on Sunday that ex-Economy Minister Luis Arce Catacora will be his party's presidential candidate in Bolivia's May 3 elections.

Speaking from self-exile in Argentina, Morales also confirmed that Arce would be accompanied on the Movement To Socialism party ticket by David Choquehuanca, the 58-year-old former foreign minister who, like Morales, is from Bolivia's Aymara indigenous group.

Morales, who governed Bolivia for nearly 14 years, resigned the presidency in November when the Police and Army withdrew support after several weeks of demonstrations that erupted over allegations of fraud in the October 20 presidential election that Morales claimed to have won. 

The Organisation of American States (OAS) said its audit found serious irregularities in the vote count.

An interim government took over after Morales left the country and annulled the October election, scheduled new national elections for May.

Many people expected Choquehuanca to be named the party's presidential candidate. 

Arce is "a combination of the city and the countryside to continue the process of change," said Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president.  "Our peasant movement does not exclude people and does not marginalize people." 

Speaking at a hotel in Buenos Aires, Morales said Arce was the best choice to lead the party's ticket because of his economic expertise. 

Arce played a key role in economic decisions during Morales' three terms as president.

But there were quick signs of dissent within the party over the passing over of Choquehuanca.

Omar Aguilar, a member of the party, said the decision was difficult to accept and predicted it would create problems with peasant leaders who had backed Morales' long-time foreign minister.

“He has not respected our decision,” Aguilar said. “This is a betrayal of the unity pact that we had agreed upon.”

- AP

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