protesterPompeo
© Reuters/Henry Romero; Reuters/Yara Nardi
Bolivian protester • US Sec of State Mike Pompeo
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has ordered officials involved in Bolivia's last election to "step aside" in the next contest, and pledged "support" for the post-coup government empowered after the ouster of Evo Morales.

Hailing Bolivia's "political transition" as "important ... to democracy in our hemisphere," Pompeo insisted in a statement on Thursday that former President Morales and other officials who took part in October's vote stay away from the upcoming ballot for the sake of a "free, fair and transparent election."
"Those who participated in the egregious irregularities and manipulation of the vote in the flawed October 20 election must, for the good of Bolivia, step aside and let Bolivians rebuild their institutions."
The top US diplomat also maintained that "violence, repression, and political intimidation have no place in a democracy," even as Morales supporters were gunned down in the streets by the very interim government that Pompeo swore to "support."

The charge of "irregularities" in October's election stems from the Organization of American States (OAS) - a multinational body based in Washington, DC and heavily funded by the US government - which expressed "deep concern and surprise" over the preliminary results, well before all the votes had been tallied. A statistical analysis of the final results conducted by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), however, could find no such irregularities.

While the OAS said Morales had picked up a suspicious number of votes in the later stages of counting, CEPR found that the precincts counted last were heavily pro-Morales, explaining his disproportionate gain in the final stretch.

"Why did it happen? The answer is simple and not that uncommon: the people in later-reporting areas were more pro-MAS (Movement Toward Socialism) than those in areas that reported earlier," wrote CEPR co-director Mark Weisbrot in a recent column.

In an interview with RT Spanish, Morales said the OAS's conclusions about the election were "not based on a technical report, but on a political decision," and slammed the organization for aiding the drive to remove him from office.

While the deposed socialist leader told Der Spiegel that he would not run for re-election again if it would "[harm] pacifying the nation," he insisted on his right to do so.

Morales was forced to resign earlier this month under pressure from the Bolivian military, after the opposition - backed by OAS - claimed the October election had been rigged. He eventually sought political asylum in Mexico, as cities across Bolivia descended into violent chaos. Opposition Senator Jeanine Anez has since declared herself Bolivia's "interim president" and was quickly recognized by Washington.