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LATIN AMERICA | 17-12-2019 23:59

Exiled Morales convinced his party will win Bolivia election

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

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

After leading the 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 Buenos Aires.

"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 at a press conference on Tuesday.

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

At the weekend, Añez said an arrest warrant would soon be issued for Morales, saying he would be investigated for sedition and terrorism. And she received support from US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

"We denounce the ongoing violence and those that provoke it both in Bolivia and from afar," Trump said on Twitter, in what appeared to be a clear reference to Morales.

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.

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

MAS has named Morales as their election campaign manager.

Morales spoke of meeting Argentina's new leaders as he launched his party's election campaign from the Liniers neighbourhood of the capital, a part of the city with a large Bolivian community.

The former Bolivian leader said he had met with President Alberto Fernández and Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

"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 favourites to lead MAS at the next election are 30-year-olds Adriana Salvatierra, the former Senate president, and political scientist Andronico Rodríguez, 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.

Añez, who thanked Trump for his tweet, has repeatedly insisted her government will set an election date but has yet to do so.


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