May 1, 2020 / 11:43 AM / a month ago

Bolivian Parliament approves law calling for elections in 90 days, defying interim government

FILE PHOTO: Bolivian deputies attend a session where they approve a law calling for elections in 90 days, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in La Paz, Bolivia, April 29, 2020. REUTERS/David Mercado

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivia’s opposition-controlled parliament approved a law Thursday night that calls for presidential elections within 90 days, prompting outcry from the country’s interim president who has put the country under mandatory lockdown due to coronavirus.

Assembly members from Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), the political party of former long-term leftist leader Evo Morales, backed the measure, which establishes that the general elections must occur by August 2.

The ballot, initially meant to be held on May 3, is a re-run of a fraught October election last year that sparked widespread protests and violence, and eventually led to Morales’ resignation.

The May 3 date was postponed in March due to the global coronavirus pandemic and a mandatory quarantine in Bolivia that is to last until May 10. The electoral tribunal had proposed a new election date between June 7 and September 6.

Interim president Jeanine Anez, who is a candidate in the upcoming elections, accused Morales and MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce of putting the lives of Bolivians at risk in an attempt to regain control of the country, which is under mandatory quarantine.

“In Bolivia, voting is mandatory and forcing almost 6 million people to move on the street in a single day and in the midst of a pandemic will bring thousands and thousands of infections, and that can generate hundreds of fatalities,” Anez said in a statement.

The Bolivian Constitution allows the president of Parliament, MAS member Eva Copa, to enact a law if it is determined the executive branch rejects it without solid arguments.

Bolivia has more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 62 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.

Reporting by Daniel Ramos; writing by Cassandra Garrison, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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