An opposition senator has laid claim to Bolivia’s highest office with the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, in exile in Mexico. Amid polarisation, street unrest is unlikely to relent. An orderly transition that avoids bloodshed will require external guidance, probably from the European Union.
Risk of violent escalation around 18 Oct general elections rerun remained high amid govt crackdown on opposition. Court 7 Sept ruled exiled former President Morales ineligible to run for Senate in Oct. Govt 9 Sept asked International Criminal Court to launch investigation into alleged “crimes against humanity” by opposition supporters during Aug protests. NGO Human Rights Watch 11 Sept accused govt of “abusing the justice system” to pursue Morales’ supporters and denounced terrorism charges against former president as “politically motivated”. Interim President Jeanine Añez 18 Sept dropped out of presidential race, citing need to unite vote against Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS); move follows large-scale Jubileo Foundation poll 16 Sept which found 40.3% of Bolivians plan to vote for MAS presidential candidate Luis Arce. Meanwhile, several attacks targeted party supporters. Notably, unidentified assailants 17 Sept threw stones at right-wing Creemos party member in Oruro city; others 20 Sept pelted centrist Comunidad Ciudadana member with rocks in capital La Paz. Three top cabinet ministers 27 Sept resigned, reportedly because they oppose privatisation of regional electricity company in Cochabamba city.
Controversy over the 2019 election and its violent aftermath continues to haunt Bolivian politics. As fresh polls approach, outside actors should supply technical advice and monitoring, as well as push rival parties to pledge to keep any disputes off the streets.
President Evo Morales’s efforts to consolidate sweeping reforms on the basis of a controversial new constitution have steered Bolivia into a cul-de-sac.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, will complete a year in office on 22 January amid rising civil unrest.
The first-round victory of Evo Morales in the December 2005 presidential election profoundly altered Bolivia’s politics and the way South America’s poorest nation is seen abroad.
Amid political turmoil around Bolivia’s election last year, protesters from both sides took to the streets, and election-related violence killed at least 36 people. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2020 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to work closely with all political parties to make sure a timely and credible presidential election takes place.
Originally published in La Razón