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.
Authorities postponed general elections rerun due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, while political tensions continued between interim President Áñez and Movement toward Socialism (MAS) party of former President Morales. After Áñez 21 March declared 14-day quarantine until 4 April in attempt to contain spread of coronavirus, Supreme Electoral Tribunal suspended presidential and legislative elections, originally scheduled for 3 May. Interim govt 17 March closed borders to non-residents and suspended all international flights in attempt to curb COVID-19 spread. MAS-dominated Legislative Assembly6 March passed motion of no-confidence against Defence Minister Luis Fernando López after he repeatedly refused to appear before chamber as part of parliamentary investigation into late 2019 post-electoral violence. Áñez dismissed López 9 March but swore him in again next day; MAS accused Áñez of “stepping on constitution”. Attorney General 6 March widened investigation against Morales over alleged terrorism to include fourteen MAS leaders.
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.
Bolivia and Peru are becoming a second, though compared to Colombia still relatively small-scale, pole of cocaine production in the Andes, feeding in particular a growing Latin American market in addition to the traditional U.S. and European markets.
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