The interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Anez, announced on Thursday her withdrawal from the presidential race a month before the elections, fearing she would split the vote against leftist Luis Arce, protege of former leader Evo Morales.

"Today I set aside my candidacy for the presidency of Bolivia," said the right wing leader in a televised message.

She explained that she made the decision "in view of the risk that the democratic vote be divided among various candidates and that as a result of that division the MAS (Movement Towards Socialism, led by Morales) end up winning the election" of October 18.

Flanked by her candidate for the vice presidency, businessman Samuel Doria Medina, and other political allies, Anez called for unity against the MAS, whose standard-bearer is in first place in polls.

Handout photo released by the Bolivian Presidency of Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez (R) taking part in a celebration for the 195th anniversary of the creation of the Bolivian Armed Forces in La Paz on August 7, 2020 Handout photo released by the Bolivian Presidency of Bolivian interim President Jeanine Anez (R) taking part in a celebration for the 195th anniversary of the creation of the Bolivian Armed Forces in La Paz on August 7, 2020 Photo: Bolivian Presidency / -

"If we do not unite, Morales returns; if we do not unite, democracy loses; if we do not unite, the dictatorship wins," said the 53-year-old leader.

Anez abandoned the electoral race one day after a national poll put her in fourth place in the race, and Arce in the lead.

Anez took office in November 2019, after Morales resigned amid social upheaval.

She promised to lead a transitional government with the aim of calling new elections in 2020, but in January she announced her candidacy, a decision that was highly criticized by adversaries and some allies.