Times of Middle East

Bolivians vote in native, regional polls amid COVID-19 considerations

About 7.1 million individuals will head to polling stations throughout the nation for the obligatory vote on Sunday.

Bolivians are voting in municipal and regional elections on Sunday amid a surging COVID-19 pandemic that has stretched the nation’s healthcare system.

“After restoring democracy in 2020, today it is up to us to elect our territorial representatives,” President Luis Arce tweeted shortly after polls opened at 8am native time (12:00 GMT).

“Bolivia is a democratic model in a pandemic,” he stated.

About 7.1 million individuals will head to polling stations throughout the nation for the obligatory vote to elect 9 governors and 336 mayors, in addition to their respective regional meeting members and municipal councillors.

Bolivia has reported greater than 253,000 instances of COVID-19 and greater than 11,800 coronavirus-related deaths, based on Johns Hopkins University information, whereas healthcare employees went on strike final month to demand stricter public well being measures.

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The president of the nation’s electoral authority, Salvador Romero, welcomed Bolivia’s effort to carry two nationwide elections amid the pandemic.

The vote comes simply months after Arce of the MAS Party of former Bolivian President Evo Morales gained Bolivia’s presidential elections in October of final 12 months.

He gained 55 p.c of the vote, avoiding a possible runoff, whereas MAS additionally gained majorities in each homes of Congress.

“Now our great challenge is to rebuild our homeland in peace, to regain joy, stability and hope for a better tomorrow for all Bolivians,” Arce stated on social media after the outcomes have been introduced.

“We won’t let down the trust that people have placed in us.”

According to current polls, MAS candidates are going through challenges in municipal contests in elements of La Paz, El Alto, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz.

People queue to vote throughout regional elections on March 7, 2021, in Laja, 30km west of La Paz, Bolivia [Aizar Raldes/AFP]

The identical polls predicted the political opposition was favoured to win the governorship within the area of Santa Cruz, can be in an in depth race for the governor put up in La Paz, and would fall brief in Cochabamba.

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Schweimler, reporting from Argentina, stated the pandemic was the central situation on voters’ minds main as much as the election.

“The pandemic has starkly highlighted the issues that most concern Bolivian voters,” stated Schweimler, pointing to well being and financial points.


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