LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales on Wednesday accepted defeat in last weekend’s referendum on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to seek a fourth term.
At a press conference in La Paz, Morales said that he will respect the result of the referendum and added that his party, the leftist MAS, had a “solid vote” of 50 percent of the public who supported him despite the “dirty war” he said was waged against him.
“Except for this referendum, we’ve defeated them on everything, all the battles. Now it will be that we’ve lost a battle, but not the war,” the president said.
This is the first electoral defeat for Morales in the 10 years since he came to power.
In Sunday’s referendum, the “No” option – meaning that the constitution will not be modified to allow a president to run for a third consecutive term – prevailed with 51.31 percent of the vote against 48.69 percent for the “Yes” option, with 99.49 percent of the ballots counted, electoral authorities reported Tuesday evening.
Morales said that he will continue his battle against capitalism and imperialism together with the social movements.
He declined to speak about a possible successor.
“I know that some comrades perhaps (feel) a little disappointed and concerned. They’ve expressed that, but this process is unstoppable because we’ve scarcely talked about modifying the constitution so that Evo can be elected again. The program is not under discussion,” he said.
The official result confirmed the figures released Sunday after the voting in exit polls that predicted a narrow “No” victory.
Morales, Indian-majority Bolivia’s first indigenous president, took office in 2006, started his second term in 2010 and the third in January 2015.
Although the new constitution enacted in 2009 limits the president to two consecutive terms, Morales was able to run in 2014 thanks to a court decision that concluded his first term did not count against the total because it began prior to the adoption of the new charter.