Bolivian lawmakers took a first step towards filling the vacuum of leadership left by the resignation of president Evo Morales, who has fled to Mexico after being granted asylum, as violent clashes continued around the country.
Jeanine Anez, an opposition senator, surfaced as acting head of Congress and next in line to succeed Morales after Bolivia’s vice president and the heads of the country’s lower and upper chambers also resigned.
She told reporters in La Paz, the country’s administrative capital, she’s ready to lead a transitional government and called an extraordinary legislative session on Tuesday to discuss Morales’ resignation. She also pledged to call new elections.
Morales quit after election irregularities triggered weeks of violence and political clashes. The Organization of American States published a report saying the presidential election had been marred by serious
irregularities, leading the armed forces, the country’s largest workers group and local church leaders to call for the resignation of the president even after Morales announced new elections. The head of the electoral authority also resigned after the OAS report.
“Morales has left a vacuum, a chaotic situation, instability and it’s going to take a while to sort it out and calm it down,” said Nicholas Watson, head of Latin American research at advisory firm Teneo.
Morales’ abrupt departure after more than 13 years in power split governments in the Americas and beyond. Russia joined leftist governments in the region, including Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba, in denouncing what the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said appeared to have been “an orchestrated coup.”
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump said the resignation strengthened democracy in the region and praised the military for defending Bolivia’s constitution.
The permanent council of the OAS will meet in Washington to discuss the situation.
Morales took office in 2006, and was the lone survivor of the so-called pink tide of leftist leaders that reshaped the continent’s politics during the 2000s.
Morales granted asylum in Mexico, says minister
Bolivia’s Evo Morales accepted Mexico’s offer of political asylum, thrusting leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government into the centre of a crisis that has split Latin America’s government allegiances.
The asylum was granted due to “humanitarian reasons and by virtue of the emergency situation he faces in
Bolivia, where his life and
integrity are at risk,” Mexican Foreign Affairs Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference in Mexico City.
Mexico has asked Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry to ensure Morales’s safe passage to the country under international law, he said, without giving details of when the former president would travel.
Bolivia is in chaos after a night of arson attacks and clashes.