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Bolivia: UN urges calm, ahead of Sunday’s general elections

UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the country’s political and social actors, as well as State institutions, to commit to the holding of peaceful elections, his spokesperson said on Friday. 

He encouraged all actors to respect the electoral process, in particular the final results of the vote. 

The UN chief “reaffirms his support to the aspiration of Bolivians to hold transparent, credible, participatory and inclusive elections in a framework of full respect for civil and political rights”, added the spokesperson. 

An opportunity to defuse extreme polarization 

In a separate statement, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged all Bolivians to use the polls as an opportunity to “defuse extreme polarization” plaguing the Latin American country over the past few years. 

“Everyone should be able to exercise the right to vote in peace, without intimidation or violence”, she said. 

“These elections represent an opportunity to really move forward on social and economic fronts, and to defuse the extreme polarization that has been plaguing Bolivia over the past few years.” 

In light of the political and human rights crises unleashed during the previous national elections process a year ago, Ms. Bachelet expressed hope that Sunday’s poll would take place in a calm, participatory and inclusive manner, that ensures respect for the human rights of all. 

Bolivia fell into crisis last October after President Evo Morales declared victory in disputed elections that would have granted him a fourth term, prompting mass protests. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured, amid reports of widespread human rights violations and abuses. 

Mr. Morales later stepped down and left the country.

‘Serious concern’ over inflammatory language 

The High Commissioner also voiced serious concern at the inflammatory language and threats made by some political actors in recent weeks, as well as the increasing number of physical attacks that have been taking place. 

“It is essential that all sides avoid further acts of violence that could spark a confrontation,” she said.  

“No one wants to see a repeat of last year’s events, which led to extensive human rights violations and abuses, including at least 30 people killed and more than 800 injured – and ultimately to everyone losing out.” 

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) deployed a mission to Bolivia in November 2019. The mission remains in the country, to monitor and report on any human rights violations and abuses, including in the context of the elections. 

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