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US suggests Morales should step aside from Bolivia vote

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Washington (AFP)

The United States on Thursday suggested that Bolivia's former president Evo Morales should stay out in upcoming elections, which Washington said should be "free, fair and transparent."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised US support for the transitional government, which took office after veteran leftist Morales quit amid an uproar over the conduct of October 20 elections.

"We admire the Bolivian people for standing up for their constitution, their democracy, and for free, fair and transparent elections," Pompeo said in a statement.

"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," he said.

Morales -- Bolivia's first indigenous president, who had turbulent relations with the United States -- was seeking a fourth mandate despite a two-term limitation and faced accusations of vote-rigging.

In an interview published Thursday with German magazine Der Spiegel, Morales, who went into exile in Mexico, said: "I have the right to stand -- but if that harms pacifying the nation then I stand aside."

Pompeo called on all sides to refrain from violence after at least 32 people were killed in post-election unrest.

"Security services must respect the rights of peaceful protesters, and the Bolivian authorities must ensure accountability for any violations of the right of citizens," he said.

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