By Laura Gamba
BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal formally announced Friday that Luis Arce won the presidential election.
The candidate of former President Evo Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party, captured 55.1% of the votes to avoid a runoff, after five days of vote counting.
Citizen Community and main opposition candidate Carlos Mesa received 28.8%, according to official results.
Heads of state in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, began congratulating Arce before results were official.
"We have just learned the results of the election in Bolivia and we are very pleased,” Lopez Obrador said Thursday. “We greet, embrace and congratulate the people of Bolivia because they knew how to face a serious conflict through peaceful and democratic means, and they elected a president from the same movement to which former President Evo Morales belongs, who was deposed and faced threats.”
Lopez Obrador said Mexico granted Morales asylum last year when he resigned following a disputed election that resulted in unrest.
"He was granted protection and asylum. That was a task headed by [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Marcelo Ebrard and I gave the instruction," he said.
Other regional leaders sent congratulations to Arce earlier this week, as exit polls suggested he had a strong enough lead to claim victory.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said Monday the MAS victory was “not only good news for those who defend democracy in Latin America; it is also an act of justice in the face of the aggression suffered by the Bolivian people."
Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez said he contacted Arce.
"I contacted president-elect of Bolivia Luis Arce to congratulate him on his democratic triumph. We agreed to continue promoting strong bilateral relations between Paraguay and Bolivia and regional integration," he said.
After learning of unofficial results, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel also welcomed the results of exit polls and emphasized that the Bolivian people had defeated the “coup d' etat” against Morales in November 2019, following a report by the Organization of American States (OAS) that said the election was rigged.
The regional bloc never provided proof of the allegations.
Diaz-Canel said on Twitter the MAS party “regained in the polls the power usurped by the oligarchy, in collusion with the OAS and under the guidance of the empire.”
The Mexican government on Wednesday requested the resignation of Luis Almagro as General Secretariat of the OAS for having intervened in Bolivian democracy.
"Mexico suggests that Mr. Luis Almagro submit to a process of self-criticism based on his actions against the Inter-American Democratic Charter and for hurting Bolivia's democracy, to determine if he still has the moral authority to lead this organization," said Maximiliano Reyes, Mexican Undersecretary for Latin America and the Caribbean, during Mexico's virtual intervention at the OAS General Assembly. “What happened in Bolivia must never be repeated," he added.
Morales also joined a petition Thursday for Almagro's resignation while in exile in Argentina.