In Bolivia, the first general elections to be held for 12 years have been conducted amid allegations of widespread electoral malpractice.
GV: La Paz
GV PAN FROM: rooftops TO crowded streets.
SV: women and children seated in road PAN ACROSS TO crashed car.
GV PAN TO SV:voters queuing polling station (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR: votes being cast. (2 shots)
GV: Plaza Murilla with Presidential Palace.
SV: President Hugo Banzer arrives to vote past applauding people.
SV: people in street
SV: officials inking finger President Banzer's finger after voting.
GV: Nationalist candidate for Presidency General Juan Perenda Asbun leaving polling station to cheer from crowd.
GV: Centrist party candidate Victor Paz Estenssoro with glasses and white hair leaving polling station with family and shaking hands of crowds.
GV AND SV: night shots voting boxes being carried into main Library under heavy security and doors being closed. (3 shots)
GV AND SV INTERIOR: votes being counted inside Library. (2 shots)
CU: Dr. Hernan Siles Zuazo left-wing candidate speaking in Spanish.
One of the International observers, Lord Avebury, of Britain, described the election as "crooked as a piece of barbed wire". Lord Avebury and the United States observer, Professor Robert Goldman, said the way the election had been handled could effect future British and American aid to Bolivia. The latest results give General Pereda, 513,653 votes, Dr Silas 217,810 votes, General Rene Bernal the Christian Democrat candidate 128,730 votes and Senor Paz Estenssoro, 126,255 votes. Voters are also electing representatives to the 27 seat Senate and 111 seat Lower House. If no Presidential candidate gains over 50 per cent of the vote, Congress will elect the president from among the two leading candidates. Dr Siles is recommending his left-wing alliance forms a coalition government with General Bernal's Christian Democrat party and the Centrist Party of Senor Paz Estenssoro.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: In Bolivia, the first general elections to be held for 12 years have been conducted amid allegations of widespread electoral malpractice. The country's two million voters went to the polls on Sunday(9 July) and since then opposition parties have claimed that ballot boxes were interfered with, votes miscounted and electoral registers rigged.
SYNOPSIS: The Bolivian capital, La Paz was quiet on polling day. The government had ordered the closure of all shops and bars, the banning of the sale of alcohol and stopped public transport. With only official vehicles allowed on the streets and private cars banned, the city centre was empty except for the queues of Bolivians waiting to cast their votes. Over 40 per cent of the electorate is illiterate, so ballot papers were in eight colours to enable the voters to distinguish between the candidates.
The retiring President, General Hugo Banzer came to power after a military coup in 1971. Officially his government is not supporting any candidate in the election but several members of General Banzer's cabinet and the armed forces have openly backed former Air Force Commander, General Juan Pereda Asbun. After casting his vote, General Banzer's finger was inked - a measure taken to ensure no-one votes twice.
Latest results give General Pereda a lead of 295 thousand votes over his nearest rival. Opposition candidate claim that some ballot boxes containing anti-pereda votes were switched before being counted and that some were thrown into Lake Titicaca, near La Paz. The Centrist Party candidate, Victor Paz Estenssoro is far behind the poll leaders, but his share of the vote could effect the final result since the winner needs an absolute majority.
Nine International observers from Human Rights Organisations have witnessed the elections. They claim election rules were broken on behalf of General Pereda. alleging that in rural area there were more registered voters than inhabitants and that soldiers supervising the poll only supplied voters with green Pereda ballot slips. General Pereda has denied all the accusations and said left-wingers were determined to disrupt the election and had themselves fraudulently obtained votes. One of the chief critics of government handling of the election left-wing coalition candidate, Dr Hernan Siles Zuazo, has said the official figures are incorrect and that although he appears to have lost to General Pereda, he is in fact the real victor and is prepared to lead a coalition government.