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Bolivia to vote for new leader in May

The vote will be held nearly seven months after the controversial election result that sparked Evo Morales' ouster. While not permitted himself to run in the new elections, Morales will lead his party's campaign.

Bolivians will go to the polls on May 3 to elect a new government to replace ousted President Evo Morales and the current interim administration, the country's electoral commission said Friday.

If there is no winner in the first round, a run-off vote between the top two candidates would subsequently take place in the second half of June.

The vote will be held nearly seven months after last year's controversial election result that initially handed a fourth term to Evo Morales

An audit of the October elections found serious irregularities, sparking widespread accusations of electoral fraud and weeks of violent protests, which prompted Morales' resignation in November.

Read more: Opinion: Latin America's upheaval tips towards chaos

The clashes between protesters and security forces, both before and after Morales' resignation, led to more than 30 deaths.

Morales, who had been in power for 14 years, fled the country, first to Mexico and then to Argentina. He has said he was forced to leave Bolivia due to a US-backed coup d'etat.

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Bolivia: Tensions between political camps

A conservative interim government led by former Senate Vice President Jeanine Anez subsequently took power.

From exile, Morales said he expects his leftist Movement Toward Socialism party (MAS) — currently the country's largest political faction — will win the elections.

Read more: Evo Morales aims to shape Bolivian politics from Argentinian exile

Though Morales cannot himself run as a candidate in the elections, he has been tapped to lead the party's campaign.

The MAS will announce its presidential candidate later this month. Opposition leader and right-wing activist Luis Fernando Camacho has already announced his presidential candidacy.

Interim leader Anez has announced that Bolivia will issue an arrest warrant for Morales on charges of sedition. Nevertheless, Morales has said he intends to return to his country.

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Bolivian lawmakers pave way for new elections

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mmc/stb (AP, Reuters, dpa)