Bolivian opposition repeats call for new elections; Morales says going nowhere

FILE PHOTO: Carlos Mesa, election runner-up of Bolivia’s opposition, arrives at the international airport, in El Alto, Bolivia November 6, 2019. REUTERS/David Mercado/File Photo

LA PAZ (Reuters) – Bolivian opposition leader Carlos Mesa asked Congress on Friday to pass an emergency bill setting the details of new elections as his political archenemy, President Evo Morales, vowed again not to buckle to mounting pressure on him to step down.

Mesa’s proposal, outlined in a letter to the head of Bolivia’s Congress, called for a new vote before Morales’ current terms is set to end on Jan. 22. To facilitate this, he said, the country needs a newly staffed electoral tribunal.

Morales, a socialist who won another term in last month’s contested vote, dismissed opposition calls for him to step down.

“The Right says ‘Evo has to resign.’ I want to tell you, sisters and brothers, to all of Bolivia and the world, I will not resign,” Morales said at a public event. “We are elected by the people and we respect the constitution.”

Street clashes broke out on Thursday among supporters and opponents of Bolivia’s government armed with slingshots and dynamite. Luis Fernando Camacho, a civic leader from the eastern city of Santa Cruz, appeared at rallies in the city on Thursday, calling for Morales to step down.

Camacho says he has prewritten a resignation letter that he wants Morales to sign. The opposition firebrand said he plans to deliver the letter to the president on Monday.

Reporting by Daniel Ramos; writing by Hugh Bronstein; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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