Evo Morales wants UN mediation in Bolivia
MEXICO CITY — Bolivia’s Evo Morales on Friday called for the United Nations, and possibly Pope Francis, to mediate in the Andean nation’s political crisis following his ouster as president in what he called a coup d’etat that forced him into exile in Mexico.
In an interview with The Associated Press in Mexico City, Morales claimed he is in fact still president of Bolivia since the country’s Legislative Assembly has not yet accepted his resignation, which he presented Sunday at the urging of military leaders following weeks protests against his re-election to a fourth term, which the opposition called fraudulent.
“If they haven’t accepted or rejected (his resignation), I can say I am still president,” said the man who ruled Bolivia for almost 14 years as its first indigenous president. Mexico has granted him political asylum.
He said he would return to Bolivia if that would contribute to its pacification.
Morales said he has also received information that some Bolivian army troops are planning to “rebel” against the officers who urged him to resign. But he gave no further specifics on how many were in on the plan, or how they would rebel.
Morales said he was “surprised by the betrayal of the commander in chief of the armed forces,” Williams Kaliman.
He called for calm and dialogue in Bolivia.
“I want to tell them (his supporters) that we will have to recover democracy, but with a lot of patience and peaceful struggle,” Morales said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday he is sending Jean Arnault, a personal envoy, to Bolivia to support efforts to find a peaceful solution to the nation’s crisis.
“I have a lot of confidence in the U.N.,” Morales said. But he noted he wants the world body “to be a mediator, not just a facilitator, perhaps accompanied by the Catholic church and if Pope Francis is needed, we should add him.”
Bolivia’s interim leader Jeanine Añez has been recognized by some countries but faces an uphill battle in organizing new elections.
According to the constitution, an interim president has 90 days to organize an election. The disputed accession of Añez, who until Tuesday was second vice president of the Senate, was an example of the long list of obstacles she faces. Morales’ backers, who hold a two-thirds majority in Congress, boycotted the session she called Tuesday night to formalize her claim to the presidency, preventing a quorum.
Meanwhile Thursday, Morales’ backers demonstrated for his return from asylum in Mexico.
“Evo: Friend, the people are with you!” shouted protesters in the city of Sacaba.
They had come overnight from Chapare, a coca-growing region where Morales became a prominent union leader before he became president. Soldiers blocked them from reaching the nearby city of Cochabamba, where Morales’ supporters and foes have clashed for weeks.
Many protesters waved the national flag and the multicolor “Wiphala” flag that represents indigenous peoples.
Morales’ resignation followed nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an Oct. 20 election in which he claimed to have won a fourth term in office. An Organization of American States audit of the vote found widespread irregularities.
Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that would have forbidden him from running for a new term.
In the wake of Morales’ resignation, it was unclear whether Bolivian election officials would have to formally bar him from running in a new election.
Edited by KGA
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