Bolivia's interior minister accuses Morales of 'terrorism'

La Paz (AFP) –


Bolivia's interim government on Friday filed a lawsuit accusing Evo Morales of "sedition and terrorism" after the ex-president called on supporters to maintain blockades in the crisis-hit country.

Interior Minister Arturo Murillo filed the complaint with federal prosecutors in La Paz, which has been choked by road blocks for weeks, causing food and fuel shortages in the capital.

"We are seeking the maximum penalty for sedition and terrorism," Murillo told reporters after launching legal action against Morales.

If Morales -- who fled to Mexico after resigning on November 10 -- were charged and convicted, he would face a maximum penalty of 30 years in jail.

The legal action against Morales -- who was Bolivia's first indigenous president -- comes as Congress debates when to hold new elections that are seen as crucial to quelling weeks of unrest that erupted after the disputed October 20 ballot.

Morales, who had been seeking a fourth term, claimed he won the vote, but opposition groups said it was rigged.

A poll audit by the Washington-based Organization of American States, found irregularities in the results.

At least 32 people have been killed in violence since the election, including 17 in clashes with security forces as anti-government protesters block main roads.

- 'Let us govern' -

Morales has accused Bolivian security forces of engaging in "genocide" against his indigenous supporters, and called for action by the international community.

The legal action comes after Murillo played a telephone recording to journalists on Wednesday, allegedly of Morales issuing instructions to a leader of the opposition movement in Bolivia.

"Don't let food into the cities, we're going to block, really encircle (the cities)," says the voice Murillo attributed to Morales.

Morales, who claims to have been a victim of a coup after losing the support of the security forces, tweeted Thursday that the caretaker government's efforts to prosecute him were a "farce."

Attorney General Juan Lanchipa said Friday he would ask the foreign ministry to "inform Mexican authorities of the beginning of the investigation" involving Morales.

Interim President Jeanine Anez on Friday called on anti-government protesters to "let us govern" and lift the road blocks around La Paz.

Her remarks come a day after police tear gassed indigenous protesters who marched on the city with the coffins of five of the eight people killed in clashes at a key fuel plant Tuesday.