Morales claims victory in Bolivia

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The Independent US

Bolivia seems to have made history after Evo Morales, a native American who has styled himself Washington's "nightmare", claimed an overwhelming victory in the presidential election.

With the available election data suggesting he had secured some 50 per cent of the vote, Mr Morales was set to become the first native American president in his country's history.

While it was unclear if Mr Morales had secured the outright majority of more than 50 per cent needed to win without the approval of the country's congress, his nearest rivals had already conceded victory.

His chief opponent, the Harvard-educated Jorge Quiroga, a conservative free-market advocate, said: "I publicly and openly congratulate Don Evo Morales."

Mr Morales, an outspoken critic of the US, represents a definite political shift and adds to other Latin American nations, such as Brazil and Venezuela, which have in recent years elected leftist leaders - often in opposition to Washington-backed opponents.

While Washington interfered in the 2002 presidential contest which Mr Morales contested but lost, the tactic backfired and made him more popular. This time the US stayed quiet.