Bolivian President Evo Morales has stepped down hours after agreeing to call new elections, the New York Times reports.
The plan to hold new elections stemmed from a damning report from the Organization of American States (OAS) released Sunday that found “clear manipulations” of the voting process during the country’s October 20 elections.
Morales has faced mounting pressure in recent weeks after squeezing out an electoral victory after 24 hours of silence from electoral officials on election night. Questions over how Morales went from facing a runoff before that period of silence to winning the election outright caused leading opposition groups to allege election fraud and demonstrations to unfold in the streets. At least three people have died during the protests.
The OAS report found the results had indeed been tampered with: “The manipulations to the [electoral] computer systems are of such magnitude that they must be deeply investigated by the Bolivian State to get to the bottom of and assign responsibility in this serious case,” the OAS report read.
The OAS recommended Bolivian officials dissolve the existing electoral body, which has been accused of being run by Morales supporters, and hold another election.
Morales said Sunday that he’d abide by those recommendations. Following calls for his resignation by members of the armed forces, opposition leaders, and the public, Morales announced his resignation Sunday evening.
The decision follows weeks of raucous antigovernment protests across the country. Demonstrators have burned down the headquarters of local election offices, set up blockades, and paraded a mayor barefoot through the streets after cutting her hair and showering her in paint.
On Saturday, police forces refused to crack down on the protests, and the military refused to restore order in their place, releasing a statement saying, “we will never confront the people to whom we have a duty and we will always ensure peace, coexistence and the development of our homeland.”
Sunday, General Williams Kaliman told reporters, “After analysing the conflicted domestic situation, we ask the president to resign his presidential mandate to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability, for the good of our Bolivia.”