China / World

Bolivia in power void as Morales quits

By Pan Mengqi (China Daily) Updated: 2019-11-12 07:19

Departing president lashes out at 'coup' after losing backing of security forces

The sudden resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales may exacerbate divisions in the South American country and create further political uncertainty, analysts said.

In a televised address on Sunday, Morales announced his resignation after nearly 14 years in power. Morales said he was leaving to help protect the families of political allies whose homes were burned down.

Media reports said the Bolivian army chief, General Williams Kaliman, had called on Morales to resign after weeks of domestic protests over his election win after "auditors found irregularities with the poll". Morales said he had been the "victim of a coup".

 Bolivia in power void as Morales quits

Bolivian President Evo Morales (left) meets supporters on Sunday at the presidential hangar in the Bolivian Air Force terminal in El Alto, where he announced his resignation in a news conference. Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

Morales urged protesters to "stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking". He also accused his opponents of destroying the rule of law, and said his home was attacked by "violent groups".

Morales said he will return to his coca leaf producers union and continue to work with his colleagues in the production of the plant.

"I don't have to escape from the country, I haven't stolen anything. My assets are there and they can be proven," Morales said.

Hearing of Morales' resignation, Bolivia's main opposition candidate in the election, former president Carlos Mesa, claimed a victory, saying that Bolivians "have taught the world a lesson. Tomorrow Bolivia will be a new country."

Morales was the first indigenous Bolivian to become president. Observers said he brought stability and economic progress, helping to cut poverty and inequality. He remains deeply popular among many Bolivians. Backers of the president have clashed with opposition demonstrators in disturbances that have followed the October vote, in which Morales claimed victory for his fourth term.

Tang Jun, a Latin America expert at Jiangxi University of Finance and Economics, said the alleged fraud in the election has undoubtedly weakened the political authority of Morales' party and created political unrest in Bolivia. "Morales's resignation might at some point ease the opposition's anger, but will intensify the domestic unrest in the long run," Tang said.

Wang Huizhi, an assistant researcher in the Latin American and Caribbean Department of China Institute of International Studies, said that Morales' departure along with the resignations of his vice president, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and several other state leaders might create a "vacuum of state power", aggravating social management and order.

According to Wang, Morales' resignation is a result of a "political struggle".

"His resignation announcement shows that the opposition party as well as the army and police who took part in the domestic protests put pressure on Morales to resign. And that is why Morales has described it as a 'coup'," Wang said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday voiced his deep concern about the situation in Bolivia following weeks of unrest. The UN chief urged all concerned in Bolivia to refrain from violence, reduce tension and exercise maximum restraint, said Stephane Dujarric, Guterres' spokesman, in a statement.

The secretary-general appealed to all actors to commit to a peaceful resolution of the current crisis to ensure transparent and credible conditions during the run-up to a new general election, it said.

Cuba and Venezuela, as well as Brazil's former president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, accused Bolivia's opposition of staging a "coup".

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