Bolivian tribunal recommends vote delay due to coronavirus

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Military armored vehicles patrol the streets during a quarantine in El Alto, Bolivia, Friday, March 20, 2020. Authorities have decreed a quarantine from 5pm to 5am in an attempt to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. The vast majority of people recover from the COVID-19 disease. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

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Bolivia’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal on Saturday recommended that elections scheduled for May 3 be delayed as the government imposes nationwide restrictions in an attempt to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The tribunal announced a 14-day suspension of preparations for the elections, coinciding with a lockdown ordered by interim President Jeanine Áñez that includes a stay-at-home order, a clampdown on domestic travel and a halt to international flights. Bolivia has confirmed 19 cases of the virus that causes the disease known as COVID-19.

Bolivia’s congress would have to enact legislation in order to select a new date for the elections, according to Salvador Romero, president of the tribunal.

Last month, the tribunal rejected the candidacy of former President Evo Morales for a Senate seat in elections because he does not reside in the South American country, a decision the ousted leader called a “blow to democracy.”

Morales, who resigned in November and fled the country after a disputed Oct. 20 election sparked widespread protests, is barred by law from seeking the presidency but had wanted to run for a seat in the Senate.

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