Exiled Morales convinced his party will win Bolivia election

Buenos Aires (AFP) –


Evo Morales may be in exile in Argentina but the former Bolivia president said on Tuesday he was convinced his socialist party would win next year's general election, even without him.

After ruling the South American country for almost 14 years before resigning the presidency last month, Morales is barred from standing in the next election.

He controversially won an unconstitutional fourth term in October's general election that was later annulled after the Organization of American States (OAS) found clear evidence of vote rigging in an audit.

That prompted Morales to resign and flee, initially to Mexico before last week heading to Argentina.

"I'm convinced that we'll win the next elections. I won't be a candidate but I have a right to be in politics," Morales told reporters.

Bolivia's interim government, led by right-wing President Jeanine Anez, has yet to set a date for new elections but has barred Morales from standing.

At the weekend, Anez said an arrest warrant would soon be issued for Morales, saying he would be investigated for sedition and terrorism.

Bolivia has been wracked by weeks of social unrest since the October 20 election when Morales was awarded outright victory.

But the OAS audit found evidence of fraud and Morales stepped down after losing the support of Bolivia's police and armed forces.

Anez's government accuses Morales of fomenting unrest from exile, particularly amongst the indigenous communities from which he draws a large part of his support.

His Movement for Socialism (MAS) party has named Morales as their election campaign manager.

And he launched MAS's election campaign at the weekend from the Liniers neighborhood of Buenos Aires that has a large Bolivian community.

He also met with new Argentina President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Kirchner, two leftist allies.

"My obligation now that I'm not a candidate, now that I'm not president, is to accompany candidates so that they can win the elections," said Morales, who was his country's first ever indigenous president.

Amongst the favorites to lead MAS at the next election are 30-year-olds Adriana Salvatierra, the former Senate president, and political scientist Andronico Rodriguez, a coca growers union leader.

"We'll go with the best candidate, someone who guarantees not only the indigenous vote but also that of the middle classes and the business class," said Morales.