Bolivia judge confirms ex-president Morales cannot run for senate

La Paz (AFP) –


A judge in Bolivia on Monday ruled that former president Evo Morales is not eligible to run for a senate seat in October's elections, the government announced.

Justice Minister Alvaro Coimbra wrote on Twitter, "Urgent Evo Morales Disqualified," after Judge Alfredo Jaimes Terrazas confirmed the former president was barred from running, in line with a decision by the Supreme Electoral Commission in February.

"They denied protection to Evo Morales, democracy won," said lawyer Williams Bascope, one of the judicial team who weighed the constitutional protections presented by the ex-president's defense team.

Morales, 60, is a hugely influential figure in Bolivia even though he currently lives in exile in Argentina after 14 years in power. He fled into exile following three weeks of protests against his controversial re-election to an unconstitutional fourth term last October.

Morales had appealed to the constitutional court in La Paz to overturn the electoral commission’s decision and permit him to run as a senate candidate for the central region of Cochabamba, where he emerged as a political leader decades ago.

"Evo Morales cannot be a candidate for senator because he lives in Argentina," said Bascope.

Neither Morales nor his party, the Movement for Socialism (MAS), issued a statement in the immediate aftermath of the announcement.

Bolivia heads to the polls on October 18, a year after the elections that triggered mass protests over allegations of being rigged.