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Bolivia’s interim leader says Morales barred from next election

Marco Bello, REUTERS | Bolivia's interim leader Jeanine Anez talks to the media outside the Presidential Palace in La Paz, Bolivia, November 14, 2019.

Jeanine Anez, Bolivian interim leader, on Thursday said exiled former President Evo Morales will not be able to take part in upcoming elections because he is barred from running for a fourth consecutive term.

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Addressing a news conference, Anez added that Morales' vice president, Alvaro Garcia, would also not be allowed to run for president.

Anez did not announce a new date for election but under the constitution must call for them within 90 days of her taking office on Tuesday.

Morales and his vice president, Garcia, resigned after a damning audit on vote irregularities was released, and the head of the influential military suggested he should quit to end unrest after the disputed October 20 election.

Morales later went into exile in Mexico.

Anez blasted Mexico on Thursday for allowing Morales to rally support from his newly granted asylum in Mexico City.

“We have to let the Mexican government know that cannot be happening,” said Anez.

Mexico’s government has referred to the ouster as a coup d’etat, as have other left-leaning administrations in Latin America. But Anez has begun gaining recognition from more conservative governments, including Guatemala and Colombia, as well as the US and Britain.

Russia, an important geopolitical ally of Bolivia under Morales, said it was ready to work with Anez but noted that she had come to power without having a full quorum in parliament.

From exile in Mexico, Morales called for dialogue to help "pacify" Bolivia, asking the UN and Pope Francis to help. In an interview with Spanish daily El Pais published on Wednesday, Morales said he was still legally president because his resignation had not yet been accepted by the legislature.

Anez to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s president

At Thursday’s press conference Anez also announced she would recognise US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate leader, joining the US and 50 other countries in repudiating socialist President Nicolas Maduro, an ally of Morales.

But members of the new government were focused on challenges continuing at home.

Members of Morales’ Movement for Socialism party, who dominate both houses of Congress, began holding legislative sessions Wednesday aimed at questioning the legitimacy of Anez, who had been no higher than fifth in the line of succession before Morales resigned. She won recognition because those above her also announced their resignations – though some Morales backers later tried to recant their resignations.

Violent clashes erupted between Morales loyalists and police in Bolivia’s capital, raging well into the night Wednesday. His supporters also flooded into the streets of La Paz’s sister city of El Alto, a Morales stronghold, waving the multicoloured indigenous flag and chanting, “Now, civil war!”

Barricades continued to block some streets into El Alto on Thursday and some petrol stations ran out of fuel.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

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