Update: Bolivia’s Pres Morales to call fresh election after OAS audit questioned validity of his victory

LA PAZ, Nov 11 (NNN-AGENCIES) — Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has said he will call a new election after international monitors questioned the validity of his victory last month.

The Organization of American States (OAS), which monitored the elections, called for the result to be annulled.

Morales’ announcement comes after weeks of anti-government protests over reported irregularities and fraud.

The president, who was first elected in 2006, has denied any wrongdoing and ignored calls to resign.

In his announcement, he also said the country’s electoral body would be overhauled before the poll, with parliament choosing its members.

Morales, who is Bolivia’s first indigenous president, told reporters that he made the decision “to reduce all tension”.

“We all have an obligation to pacify Bolivia,” he said.

In its preliminary report, the OAS said it had found “clear manipulations” of Bolivia’s voting system and it could not verify the result of the Oct 20 race.

During the audit, it said it found physical records with alterations and forged signatures, and evidence of wide-scale data manipulation.

The international body concluded it was unlikely that Morales had won by the 10% margin required for a victory. It recommended that a new electoral commission be set up before a fresh election could take place.

Carlos Mesa, the election’s runner up, asked Bolivia’s congress to pass an emergency bill to prepare for new elections. — NNN-AGENCIES