Official: Bolivian opposition candidate fled to US

AP News
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Posted: Dec 31, 2009 7:52 PM

A Bolivian government official claims the presidential runner-up has fled to the United States to escape election-fraud charges.

Interior Minister Alfredo Rada says Manfred Reyes Villa crossed over the Peruvian border Dec. 14 and then flew to the U.S. the following day.

In his Thursday declaration, Rada did not say where Reyes Villa allegedly went in the United States.

On Dec. 16, Reyes Villa spoke with ATB television presumably from somewhere inside Bolivia. He told ATB he wouldn't leave the country, but would not surrender either.

Reyes Villa contends he is the victim of political persecution. He finished second to leftist President Evo Morales in the Dec. 6 election, with 27 percent of the vote. Morales had 64 percent.