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Those opposed to Evo Morales’ left wing government expressed disappointment at the state of disarray within the opposition.
Bolivia’s right wing opposition is increasingly divided ahead of the country’s elections in October. Tensions burst out on Friday when opposition leaders Carlos Mesa and Oscar Ortiz traded blows in the media. Ortiz accused Mesa, the leading opposition candidate, of corruption, while Mesa accused Ortiz of dirty tactics and working for the government.
Mesa, representing the right-wing ‘Citizens Community’ is polling in second place and is Evo Morales’ closest challenger. He was vicepresident under former neoliberal president Gonzalez Sanchez de Lozada, known as ‘Goni.’ Goni was overthrown in 2003 by social movements, and is seen by most as one of the most unpopular presidents due to his attempt at privatizing natural resources and violent repression of protests.
Evidence emerged earlier in the week that Goni had paid Mesa millions to the media company he owns in return for the position of vice presidential candidate. This triggered accusations that Mesa put himself for sale to the highest bidder.
Mesa refused to respond to the evidence, instead claiming that he was the victim of dirty tactics, saying, “We are facing a systematic dirty war that has no limits, and, in this case, has three protagonists who are carrying out the dirty war against me and against the Citizen’s Community: Gonismo, Oscar Ortiz and the MAS [Morales’ party]. I am not going to play the dirty war ”
On Friday, Ortiz from the right-wing ‘Bolivia Says No’ party, broke his silence in a unusually aggresive attack on Mesa, saying in a video posted on Twitter: “They accuse Goni, the government, myself, but it wasn’t me who accompanied Goni into power, it was him.” He added that Mesa’ past his is own worst enemy and that to run for the presidency one must have ‘clean hands.’
Those opposed to Evo Morales’ left wing government expressed disappointment at the state of disarray within the opposition. Senior opinion columnist Andres Gomez Vela commented on the Mesa/Ortiz divisions saying, “If Masismo [Evo Morales] wins again, it won’t be by their own efforts, but by the flaws in you two [Mesa and Ortiz]”
Morales has a comfortable lead of over 10 points above both Mesa and Ortiz, however, he falls just short of a first round round victory. If Morales 40 percent, and is 10 points ahead of his nearest rival, then Bolivian law gives him a first round victory. Morales will be hoping that Ortiz can take votes from Mesa, thereby ensuring that Mesa is not able to close the 10 point gap between him and Morales.