Bolivia’s interim president withdraws from presidential race

La Paz, Sep 17 (efe-epa).- Bolivia’s interim president Jeanine Áñez announced Thursday that she is withdrawing her candidacy for the October elections and urged unity against the front-running party of ousted Evo Morales.

“Today I set aside my candidacy for the presidency of Bolivia for the sake of democracy,” Áñez said in a video released to the media.

“It is not a sacrifice, it is an honor,” she said, citing a “risk that the vote is divided among several candidates and that as a result of that division, [Morales’ Movement for Socialism] MAS would end up winning” on Oct. 18.

Áñez announced that she was removing her candidacy for the Juntos alliance with a call for a unity candidate against MAS, sitting top of the polls.

She affirmed that her decision seeks to “help the victory of those of us who do not want a dictatorship” because “if we do not unite, Morales will return.”

“If we don’t unite, democracy loses … the dictatorship wins,” she added, urging that voters should put aside differences and “build freedom with unity.”

Añez bet that there is “a democratic candidate to confront the MAS,” whom she encouraged to defend a series of programs initiated by her interim government.

She added that she will continue as interim president until the election, which will be held after the general polls.

Añez appeared in the video accompanied by the candidate of Juntos alliance for the vice presidency, Samuel Doria Medina, ministers of the interim government and politicians who support her, such as the mayor of La Paz, Luis Revilla.

Medina also withdrew, saying “I choose to lead my compatriots rather than lead my political group.”

“The withdrawal of Jeanine and myself from the elections is our sincere, unconditional contribution, without subaltern calculations, stripped of all personal interest, to the formation of a unitary bloc that will be able to stop the return of the MAS in the next elections,” he said.

“With a MAS victory, the change that we began in November would be stopped and the time of revenge would begin, the persecution of those who fought for freedom, the government’s war against the east of the country, economic stagnation. I can not allow it,” Medina wrote.

Áñez’s withdrawl was seen in the country both as a gesture in favor of strengthening the opposition to MAS and as an anticipated defeat.

The candidate of the Citizen Community group, former president Carlos Mesa, second in the polls, wrote on Twitter that he valued ??Áñez’s “contribution to democracy.”

“We are always ready for dialog. The decision to close the door to MAS and open a new stage where the people come first will always be from the Bolivian people,” he said.

Meanwhile, another of the main candidates, Luis Fernando Camacho, from the Creemos alliance said her withdrawl was “not a detachment, it is a defeat.”

The announcement came a day after the latest electoral poll showed that Áñez was in fourth place, far from even being able to contest a second round with the first in the polls, the MAS candidate Luis Maple.

The Juntos alliance is one of the eight candidates contesting the electoral races for president, vice president, deputies and senators.

Añez assumed power on an interim basis in November, after Morales was ousted, with a call for elections as one of her priorities. But the elections scheduled for May were postponed to September and now to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, amid criticism that she was trying to hold onto power. EFE-EPA


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