Bolivia OK’s new vote to replace Morales, but date not set
LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia’s interim president formally enacted a law Sunday calling for new elections to replace ousted leader Evo Morales, while protests that have gripped the country for more than a month seemed to be easing.
The measure signed by President Jeanine Áñez doesn’t set a date for the new vote. That will be up to a new electoral tribunal that hasn’t yet been named.
Áñez promised “to organize just, clean and transparent elections.”
Protests broke out after Morales claimed victory in an Oct. 20 election that international observers invited in by the government said was flawed by numerous irregularities.
Amid the turmoil, and prodded by police and the military, Morales resigned and went into exile on Nov. 10 — setting off protests by his own backers. At least 32 people have died in the 35 days of demonstrations.
While disturbances continued in some places, the end of highway blockades was allowing food, gasoline and other goods to flow into the capital, La Paz.
The new election law approved Saturday by congress annulled the earlier vote and bars Morales from participating in the new one. The nation’s first indigenous president had already served 14 years and his rejection of term limits help spawn protests against him.
The vote will also choose a new Legislative Assembly.
Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party seemed stunned by the rapid turn of events after so long in power, during which it had come to control most of the levers of power in the country — including the legislature that voted unanimously to exclude him from the upcoming vote.
Congressman Juan Cala said Morales, “continues to be the president of the party. He is our leader and will have the final word” on the party’s candidate.
“We still haven’t assimilated what happened,’ Cala said. “We have to be self-critical with the errors. But the indigenous organizations and unions are our strength.”
Political analyst Carlos Cordero said many of those who left behind after Morales’ chief aides resigned en masse with their leader are people who had previously been overshadowed. “Now they have the challenge of renovating the MAS,” he said, using the party’s Spanish initials.
While Morales insists he was pushed out by a coup d’etat, the interim government has said it’s moving to charge him with sedition and terrorism for allegedly trying to block supplies reaching cities during the protests based on a recording he has called “a setup.”