Violence rocks Bolivia after poll shows weakening support for Morales

Reuters Santa Cruz, Bolivia Sep 14, 2019, 11.10 AM(IST)

File photo: Bolivia's President Evo Morales  Photograph:( PTI )

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Protesters set fire to one office of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) while badly damaging another as police clashed with protesters and clouds of tear gas wafted through the streets of Santa Cruz.

Bolivian protesters took to the streets of the country's largest city on Thursday (September 12) ransacking offices of the political party of Bolivian president Evo Morales as a controversial poll showed weakening support for the leader of the Andean country before general elections on October 20.

Protesters set fire to one office of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) while badly damaging another as police clashed with protesters and clouds of tear gas wafted through the streets of Santa Cruz.

According to local media, some 60 protesters were detained by police during the violent protests.

Watch Video: Police clash with protesters on streets of Bolivia

A poll released this week and conducted by top universities and civil society groups indicated that 31.1 per cent of voters planned to cast ballots for front-runner Morales, well below the 40 per cent minimum he needs to win the election outright and avoid a December run-off.

It was the strongest sign yet that South America's longest-serving leftist leader may be on shaky ground as he seeks another five-year term amid an economic slowdown, charges of authoritarianism and an outcry over raging forest fires.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), whose five members were appointed by the government and Congress, said the poll violated electoral laws regarding the financing of polls and should be disregarded.