Bolivia’s National Electoral Court (CNE) agreed yesterday to host 127 observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) to monitor the national elections scheduled to take place on December 6. These observers will join 110 representatives from the European Union, more than 30 from The Carter Center and a number of individuals from other international groups. In total, more than 300 election observers will be on hand—making them the most heavily monitored elections in more than three decades of Bolivian democracy.
Ms. Renate Weber, chief of the EU delegation, signaled that the large number of observers was a reflection of the importance of these elections in which Bolivians will vote—under the new “plurinational” constitution—on the composition of the entire National Congress and in referendums on the question of autonomy for five of Bolivia’s nine departments and in 12 indigenous municipalities.
The stated purpose of the missions, which received an official invitation from the Bolivian government, is to strengthen Bolivia’s democratic system and ensure universal suffrage. The missions will produce press releases after the elections and/or briefings to their respective leaderships. According to recent polling, Bolivian President Evo Morales is a clear favorite to win re-election in December.
Two separate explosions on Wednesday afternoon left seven people injured in La Paz, including Armonia Colque, wife of opposition leader Fidel Surco and two police officers. Although no one has officially claimed responsibility for the attacks, President Evo Morales has voiced his belief that the bombings were carried out by the “neo-liberal right” as part of a strategy to disrupt Bolivia’s December elections. Although both attacks were undertaken using letter bombs, authorities have not yet established a connection between the incidents.
Ms. Colque’s husband, Fidel Surco, who is a leader of the Consejo Nacional del Cambio (Conalcam) political party, denied President Morales’ comments and claimed that the attacks were in fact the start of a “dirty war” intended to terrorize social movements and opposition figures at the beginning of the general elections campaign. This sentiment was echoed by presidential candidates Manfred Reyes Villa and Samuel Doria Medina, who also denied opposition involvement in the attacks.