Ex-Bolivian candidate disappears to escape charges

AP News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2009 2:46 PM

The runner-up in Bolivia's presidential race has dropped out of sight to escape what he says are politically motivated charges of election fraud.

Manfred Reyes Villa tells ATB television that he won't leave the country, but will not surrender to authorities because "the conditions for a fair hearing don't exist in this country."

Reyes Villa is a center-right former military officer. He finished a distant second to leftist President Evo Morales in the Dec. 6 election, with 27 percent of the vote. Morales had 64 percent.

Interior Minister Alfredo Rada is levying accusations of election fraud against Reyes Villa, who was due to appear in court Wednesday.

Reyes Villa told ATB on Wednesday that he is the victim of political persecution.

(This version CORRECTS name as Reyes Villa throughout. )