Bolivia’s interim president, Anez, withdraws from election race

LA PAZ, Sept 17- Bolivia’s conservative interim president, Jeanine Anez, on Thursday withdrew her candidacy for the Oct. 18 election, after opinion polls showed her lagging against the socialist party of ex-leader Evo Morales. Anez made the announcement in a video message. Socialist candidate Luis Arce leads in the polls, followed by centrist Carlos Mesa.

LA PAZ, Sept 17 (Reuters) – Bolivia’s conservative interim

president, Jeanine Anez, on Thursday withdrew her candidacy for

the Oct. 18 election, after opinion polls showed her lagging

against the socialist party of ex-leader Evo Morales.

Anez made the announcement in a video message. She tookoffice during a power vacuum late last year following a electionthat sparked widespread protests and eventually led to theresignation of long-term leader Morales.

Anez’s candidacy had sparked controversy, after sheinitially ruled herself out and pledged to guide the country totransparent new elections. Socialist candidate Luis Arce leadsin the polls, followed by centrist Carlos Mesa.(Reporting by Daniel Ramos and Monica Machicao; Writing by AdamJourdan; Editing by Peter Cooney)