Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Anez on Wednesday took charge and appointed new military high command and government even as erstwhile head of state Evo Morales proclaimed from Mexico that he was ready to return to the Andean nation “if the people ask it”.
While delivering her first speech to the nation, Anez called for a “peaceful and democratic transition” and rejected Morales’ characterization of this week’s events in Bolivia as a coup.
“I want to make it clear that there is no coup d’etat in Bolivia, there is a repositioning of constitutional legality,” she said while vowing to organise new elections as soon as possible.
“I speak of a change of regime of reversing the conditions that turned us into a totalitarian country, to build fully democratic values, institutions and procedures,” she further added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Anez declared herself interim president of the country in congress despite a lack of a quorum to appoint her in a legislative session that was boycotted by legislators from former President Evo Morales’ left-wing party.
It was unclear if the move would quell unrest in the highland capital, La Paz, and other cities unleashed by Morales’ disputed bid for a fourth term.
Former President Evo Morales condemned the announcement, describing Anez as “a coup-mongering right-wing senator”.
Announcing his resignation, Morales said he had taken the decision in order to stop fellow socialist leaders from being “harassed, persecuted and threatened”. He also called his removal a “coup”.
On Sunday, Morales had resigned from the presidential post, saying, “I resign my post as president” and right after a day of his resignation, he left for Mexico.
Earlier on Sunday, violence had continued as a caravan of buses taking opposition supporters to La Paz was attacked, leaving three people injured, including one by gunfire. Morales lashed out against the OAS mission, accusing it of making a “political decision” instead of a technical one. “Some OAS technicians are at the service of … power groups.”
Morales was declared the winner of the October 20 presidential election with a narrow margin, giving him a controversial fourth term, having first taken power in 2006.
In Washington, President Donald Trump recognized Anez as the new head of Bolivia.
“We applaud the interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Anez, for assuming this crucial role at a time of great responsibility,” a spokesman for the State Department for Latin America told Efe news.
(With inputs from agency)