LA PAZ — Bolivia postponed its general elections on Thursday for a second time because of the coronavirus pandemic, putting it off until October 18, officials said.
The poll was originally supposed to be held in May but had been rescheduled to September 6 after the country went into lockdown following the virus outbreak.
The latest postponement comes just two weeks after interim president Jeanine Anez tested positive for the COVID-19. Four cabinet members have also contracted the virus.
Salvador Romero, who heads the country's electoral court, said the decision to delay the elections again came after medical experts warned that COVID-19 infections would peak in Bolivia in late August or early September.
"The definitive date for the election gives better conditions for health protection, outside voting facilities and the arrival of international observer missions," said Romero.
A second round run-off -- should there be one -- would take place on November 29, the electoral court chief added.
The Catholic Church joined forces with conservatives earlier on Thursday to push for a postponement in response to a rise in coronavirus infections.
Bolivia, a country of 11.5 million people, has recorded more than 64,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,300 deaths from the disease.
The Movement for Socialism (MAS) party of former president Evo Morales, whose candidate Luis Arce led the most recent opinion polls, insisted that the election should go ahead in September.
But Romero said that "elections require the maximum possible security."
o win outright in October's vote, presidential candidates need at least 40 per cent of the vote plus a 10 point lead over the nearest challenger, otherwise the top two candidates will head to a second round. — AFP