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Morales opponents to seek ex-president's election disqualification

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La Paz (AFP)

Opponents of former Bolivia president Evo Morales said on Wednesday they will appeal the socialist leader's bid to run for a senate seat in May's general election.

Morales, 60, was registered as a senate candidate by his Movement for Socialism (MAS) party ahead of Monday's deadline.

The electoral court is due to announce next Monday which election candidates have qualified.

But Morales's opponents say that his current exile in Argentina should disqualify him from standing.

"We're going to contest his registration because it's clear that Evo Morales doesn't live in the country," said conservative senator Oscar Ortiz, a presidential candidate in October.

He said the constitution obliges legislature candidates to be living for at least two years in the region they stand for.

MAS registered Morales as a candidate in the central Cochabamba department -- a hotbed of support for the party led by the country's first ever indigenous president.

Morales fled Bolivia on November 10 after resigning as president following three weeks of at times violent protests against his controversial re-election in a poll the Organization of American States said was rigged.

But even before leaving the country, Morales lived in La Paz for his nearly 14 years as president, and not in the Cochabamba department where he made his name as the leader of a coca growers' union.

"According to the law, he is not, nor can be a candidate, he's disqualified because the constitution prohibits it," said Juan Flores, a community leader in Cochabamba and Morales opponent.

In addition to a new president, Bolivians will elect 36 senators and 120 deputies on May 3.

If there is no outright winner for the presidency, a run-off will be held on June 14.

Morales is barred from standing for president and faces an arrest warrant should he return to Bolivia.

The government of interim President Jeanine Anez has accused him of sedition and terrorism over an audio recording in which he allegedly urges his supporters to lay siege to La Paz and other major cities.

Bolivia's constitution limits a president to two successive terms but in October's election, Morales stood for a fourth consecutive mandate.

His opponents accused him of using his position to trample on democracy.

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