Bolivia's Morales loses referendum on extending presidency: official

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 23, 2016 10:59 PM

LA PAZ (Reuters) - Bolivian President Evo Morales has lost a referendum on whether he could change the constitution to remain in power for a fourth term, the electoral commission confirmed late Tuesday.

Morales, who is currently on his third term and became Bolivia's first indigenous president in 2006, had tried to persuade Bolivians that he should be allowed to run for office again in 2019.

But, while he has retained a solid core of support among those who credit him with slashing poverty, he ultimately paid the price for accusations of corruption and cronyism that have dogged his socialist party, as well as concerns that the move was anti-democratic.

With over 99 percent of votes counted, the 'no' had beaten the 'yes' by 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent, Bolivia's electoral commission said, adding that the remaining votes to be counted were not sufficient to affect the overall result.

The result had looked likely from the time of the first exit polls on Sunday, but Morales and his government had insisted that the outcome might still change after rural and overseas votes had been taken into consideration.

(Reporting by Daniel Ramos, Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Michael Perry)