7 Dec 2009

Bolivian president claims election victory

9:00 pm on 7 December 2009

President Evo Morales has claimed victory in Bolivia's presidential election and appears set to serve a second five-year term.

Exit polls suggest Bolivia's first indigenous leader polled at least 61%, defeating his conservative rivals, the BBC reports.

Mr Morales, who had vowed to expand state control over the economy, said it was now his duty to "accelerate the pace of change".

A referendum earlier backed changes to allow presidents to seek a second term.

Mr Morales, 50, won between 61% and 63% of the vote, avoiding a run-off, the exit polls suggest.

They indicate that his main rival Manfred Reyes Villa, a former governor, secured about 23%.