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Bolivia rejects Evo Morales' fourth-term bid in referendum

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   Feb. 24, 2016 at 1:50 PM
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SUCRE, Bolivia, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Bolivian President Evo Morales has been rejected from seeking a fourth term after he proposed a constitutional amendment through a national referendum.

Bolivians voted about 51percent against a constitutional change that would have allowed Morales, whose terms ends in 2020, to run for re-election in 2019. He could have potentially remained in power until 2025. Although Morales remains popular in Bolivia, many believe he should not be allowed to serve as president for up to a 19-year rule.

"We respect the results, it is part of democracy," Morales said on Wednesday as he conceded defeat. "With my record, I can leave happily and go home content. I would love to be a sports trainer."

Most who rejected Morales' proposal live in urban areas, while he maintained high support in rural areas. Morales is an Aymara native and former coca leaf producer who took office in January 2006, becoming the first indigenous Bolivian head of state.

Morales has remained popular partly due to a continually improved economy, averaging 5 percent growth each year for the past 10 years, while several of his socialist policies have reduced extreme poverty.

Although the referendum was held Sunday, official results were not immediately available that day because votes from rural areas had not been counted.

Morales previously condemned the United States, accusing the country of perpetuating drug trafficking and of "economic terrorism."

Morales said the war on drugs is a geopolitical tactic used in the region against popular leaders to destabilize governments against the will of the country's people. He said the United States labeled him as the "Andean Bin Laden" and accused him of drug trafficking and terrorism.

"Drug trafficking seems like the big business of the capitalist system," Morales said. "[The United States] is a very developed country, with a lot of technology and the one who consumes the most drugs."

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