Bolivia delays presidential election due to pandemic

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Healthcare workers lift a man who was lying on the ground outside the General Hospital into a wheelchair to be taken to the emergency room that treats people suspected of having COVID-19 in La Paz, Bolivia, Thursday, July 23, 2020. Police in Bolivias major cities have recovered the bodies of hundreds of suspected victims of the coronavirus from homes, vehicles, and in some instances, the streets. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

LA PAZ – Bolivia's highest electoral authority on Thursday delayed presidential elections by more than a month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal moved the election date from Sep. 6 to Oct. 18, the third time the vote has been delayed.

The president of the tribunal, Salvador Romero, told reporters that Bolivian and international experts had advised the body that the uncontrolled spread of the novel coronavirus in the country made holding the election in September unfeasible.

The party of former President Evo Morales, who was ousted last year and replaced by an interim president, objected to delaying the vote and insisted that Bolivia's Legislative Assembly must approve any change in the date.

Morales' party, the Movement Toward Socialism, controls the Assembly. Romero insisted that legislative approval was not necessary.

Morales has said vote delays would extend the country's crisis of legitimacy, make it even harder to govern, and would worsen the pandemic.

Bolivia has more than 64,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and more than 2,300 deaths, a toll that is overwhelming its hospitals and other infrastructure. Romero said cases could be peaking between now and September.