(Reuters) - The domino effect that led to Bolivia’s leader Evo Morales announcing his resignation on Sunday night started at dawn, when an audit was published saying there were major irregularities in his disputed Oct. 20 election win.
The audit here carried out by the Organization of American States (OAS) after allegations of electoral fraud, called for the election to be annulled and new vote to take place.
The report set off a chain reaction: Morales agreed to new elections, even as opposition calls intensified for him to resign. Allies started to desert him and the military urged him to step down to ease angry protests that had simmered since the vote.
On Monday looting and roadblocks rocked Bolivia as the leftist leader railed against a “coup” and the political vacuum stoked uncertainty on the streets.
So what did the audit actually say?
The report found data related to a faster official count had been rerouted to a hidden server, which it said was controlled by “someone external” to the official electoral network.
“This is extremely serious and affects the transparency of the process,” the OAS said.
The OAS said the voting systems had such a large number of vulnerabilities that it was “not possible to have certainty about the data.” There was also no preservation of evidence about the election, it found.
The audit said data from compromised servers made it into the final official count, casting doubt on around 350,000 votes. Morales only just reached the threshold to win the vote outright – a lead of 10-points over rival Carlos Mesa.
Handwriting analysis of ballots where there was very high support for Morales’ MAS party found irregularities, including cases where MAS-accredited delegates had filled out all the voting data for an entire polling station.
The participation of some of the voting tables was also 100%, something the OAS said was “practically impossible”, while signatures on copied version were not the same as on originals.
In another check, OAS experts found a large number of voting booths that seemingly had collected ballots from more people than were registered to vote.
The OAS audit, which Morales had said would be binding, found severe irregularities, “clear manipulation” of the fast-count system and “serious security flaws”, which it said meant that the election result should not stand.
Reporting by Joan Manuel Santiago Lopez in Buenos Aires and Daniel Ramos in La Paz; Writing by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Lisa Shumaker