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Cablegate: Bolivia: Recall Referenda Sitrep #1 1220 Edt

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SUBJECT: BOLIVIA: RECALL REFERENDA SITREP #1 1220 EDT

August 10, 2008

SITUATION REPORT. This is first of several situation reports
today.

1. (U) Voting on the referenda to determine whether President
Evo Morales, Vice President Garcia Linera, and eight of nine
departmental (state) prefects will continue in their posts
has begun in a generally calm and orderly fashion. Bolivia
Transparente, an umbrella group of organizations providing
voting observers (partially funded by USAID), reports that 98
percent of voting locations opened and are running without
problems. As of 1030, small voting locations began to close
as their entire list of eligible voters had voted: although
it is not legal to announce the results before 1800, already
unofficial vote counts are being mentioned on the radio.

2. (U) Although there are confused reports about an
unsuccessful attack on La Paz Prefect Jose Luis Paredes (the
attacker is reportedly in custody) overall the voting in El
Alto and La Paz is proceeding very calmly. An observer in El
Alto informed Emboff that a number of citizens who had been
eliminated from the voting rolls for failure to vote in the
last election are at the polls and unable to vote now, to
their vocal dismay. In Bolivia, voting is required and
citizens are removed from the rolls if they do not vote,
requiring re-registry. In what appears to be an isolated
incident in Yucumo, Beni, ballot boxes and ballots were
stolen from the notary's house.

3. (U) Despite lack of an official resolution from Congress
or the President, the National Electoral Court maintains that
it will determine election results based on the 50 percent
plus 1 compromise it reached with the Departmental Courts
(President Morales will still require more than 54 percent of
votes against him in order to be recalled.) OAS observation
team leader Eduardo Stein told the press in the morning that
he understood that the 50 percent plus 1 level to revoke
would be applied to all eight prefects by the National
Electoral Court, despite the language of the legislation
authorizing the recall referenda.
GOLDBERG

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