Violence Flares Anew in Bolivia Amid Political Turmoil

New clashes erupted in the Bolivian capital Wednesday even as the self-declared interim president called for quick elections after former President Evo Morales resigned and fled the country.

Jeanine Anez, second vice president of the Senate, assumed the presidency Tuesday after Morales fled to Mexico Sunday following violent protests. His vice president, as well as other senior officials who could have succeeded him, also fled into exile or resigned.

Anez met with military and police commanders at the presidential palace.

On Wednesday, Morales' supporters flooded the capital, La Paz, and other cities to protest Anez's presidency, clashing with riot police who used tear gas to disperse the crowds.

Members of the security forces detain demonstrators during clashes with supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales, in…
Members of the security forces detain demonstrators during clashes with supporters of former Bolivian President Evo Morales, in Murillo square, in La Paz, Bolivia, Nov. 13, 2019.

Meanwhile, Morales struck a defiant tone from Mexico where he has sought asylum.

"If my people ask, we're ready to go back. We'll return sooner or later ... to pacify Bolivia," he said at a news conference in Mexico City.

Lawmakers of the former president's MAS Party, who still hold a majority in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, planned a session later Wednesday to "nullify" Anez's "self-proclamation," deputy Ruben Chambi said.

But they were blocked by police from entering parliamentary offices in La Paz.

The unrest in Bolivia began after opposition leaders disputed election results last month.

Latin America's longest-serving leader went into the election needing a 10 percentage-point lead to avoid a runoff and secure a fourth term.

Partial results released after the election predicted Morales would face a December runoff election against his main rival, former President Carlos Mesa.

Fewer than 24 hours later, the electoral commission released new numbers that showed with 95% of votes counted, Morales was just a 0.7 percentage point short of the 10 percentage-point mark.

The announcement prompted opposition complaints of fraud, and triggered violent protests in several cities.

For Morales, it all came to a head Sunday after he accepted calls for a new election by an Organization of American States team that found a "heap of observed irregularities" in the Oct. 20 election.

 


by via Voice of America - English

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