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Bolivia opens probe into 600 former Morales officials

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La Paz (AFP)

Bolivia's interim government said Wednesday it would launch a corruption probe into nearly 600 officials of the former government, including ex-president Evo Morales

"It has been decided to initiate investigations against 592 former officials," Mathias Kutsch, the justice ministry's chief anti-corruption investigator, told a press conference.

The probe will include Morales, vice-president Alvaro Garcia, ministers, vice-ministers, heads of cabinet and public administration officials, Kutsch said.

He said the investigation would "identify who are the people who committed corruption crimes, who diverted public resources, and chiefly, who diverted them to other countries."

Morales, Garcia and various other members of his government, who resigned after he stepped down amid protests in the South American country in November, have sought asylum abroad.

A group of around 10 former officials are sheltering inside the Mexican ambassador's residence in La Paz.

In a separate move Wednesday, Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said Bolivian authorities had activated an "international arrest warrant" against Morales to prevent him travelling to Chile where he has been invited to participate in a human rights forum.

Morales initially fled to Mexico but is now living in Argentina. Bolivia's first indigenous president, he claimed he was overthrown in a coup supported by the United States.

Since coming to power, the interim right-wing government has regularly denounced corruption under Morales' 14-year rule.

Several state companies are being investigated for corruption, including the National Telecommunications Company, state oil company YPFB, the ministries of mining and health, and pension funds.

Kutsch said the first results of his anti-corruption inquiry would be made public in April.

Elections are scheduled for May 3.

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