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Coup president Jeanine Anez drops out of Bolivia’s presidential race as polls show Morales’s party on course to win in first round

BOLIVIA’S coup President Jeanine Anez has dropped out of next month’s presidential elections after polls showed her scraping just over 5 per cent of the vote.

Ms Anez, who was appointed by the army after it forced just re-elected president Evo Morales from power last November, said she was withdrawing “to ensure there is a winner who defends democracy” against Mr Morales’s Movement for Socialism (MAS), which all polls continue to show in first place.

Polls this week showed that MAS candidate Luis Arce would win in the first round with 38.5 per cent of the vote, less than Mr Morales’s 47 per cent first-round win last year, which the opposition refused to accept.

But the showing would avoid a second round run-off because it is more than 10 points ahead of any other candidate, with former president Carlos Mesa in second place on 12.9 per cent. 

Fascist paramilitary leader and millionaire Luis Camacho, who organised the violent riots that preceded the army putsch last winter and famously stormed the presidential palace during the coup, tearing down the Pachamama emblem of indigenous Bolivians, is in third place.

Ms Anez did not endorse either, but said the right should unite behind one candidate.

But Mr Morales, who has been banned from standing, said: “Anez and her government are in freefall. On October 18 we will recover democracy and defeat the crisis.”

Bolivia’s ombudsman published a report on Thursday pointing to “crimes against humanity” committed by Ms Anez’s government, which killed scores of mostly indigenous protesters against Mr Morales’s overthrow in its first weeks. 

It records that police arrested large numbers simply for demonstrating against the coup, details cases in which individual MAS supporters were tortured or killed and describes an “execution” of 20 people in Sacaba and Senkata on the outskirts of La Paz.

These crimes were “systematically committed against the civilian population under the knowledge of, orders and instructions issued by the transitional government.”

Mr Morales suggested that in the context of the report Ms Anez’s withdrawal from the race could be motivated by her need to “negotiate impunity” for her government’s crimes as well as to unite the right.

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