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Early Count Indicates Morales Losing Bolivia Referendum

by VOA News February 22, 2016

The Bolivian president's attempt to amend the constitution, enabling him to run for a fourth term, seems headed for a defeat, according to an early vote count of Sunday's referendum.

Evo Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous leader, wants to run for a fourth consecutive term in 2019.

Analysts say voters defeated the referendum by a slight margin, but Vice President Alvaro Garcia said late Sunday the vote was still too close to call. The vote count has yet to be completed.

Voters were evenly spilt on the issue until recently.

Now, however, a growing number of Bolivians are apparently starting to doubt the integrity of their president, following recent revelations that a former girlfriend of Morales works for a company that has won lucrative government contracts.

It was also revealed that the girlfriend and Morales had a baby in 2007 who died under unexplained circumstances.

Morales says the charges are dirty tactics designed to divert attention from his achievements in cutting Bolivia's extreme poverty and empowering the country's indigenous majority during a decade in office.

Last week, supporters of the president were accused of setting fire to a local opposition government office in which six people died.

John Crabtree, a Latin American political analyst, told Reuters Sunday's vote was "a much closer-run contest than anything Evo Morales has had to fight since he became president in 2006."

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