La Paz, Nov 21 (IANS) The right-wing senator who proclaimed herself interim president of Bolivia after the armed forces pressured elected head of state Evo Morales into resigning sent a bill to congress calling for elections in 2020.
Morales’ leftist MAS party holds a majority in the legislature.
According to Efe news, Jeanine Anez told a press conference on Wednesday that the aim of her proposed legislation is to ensure a “transparent” electoral process leading to a result which is “respected.”
Bolivians went to the polls on October 20 to choose a president and members of congress. In a statement issued the day after the election, the Electoral Observation Mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) said that incumbent Morales and former head of state Carlos Mesa had appeared to be headed for a runoff before an “inexplicable change” in the trend of the vote count occurred.
Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous head of state, maintains that his late surge in the balloting came after votes from remote rural areas were counted.
He agreed to an OAS audit of the votes against a backdrop of violent protests.
The OAS released its findings November 10, saying that there had been a “clear manipulation” of the process and calling for a new election to be held.
Morales responded to the OAS statement by immediately agreeing to a new vote administered by a reconstituted electoral court. Even so, the armed forces commanders appeared on television to “suggest” that the president step down.
Under pressure from the security forces and amid a wave of mob violence that included an arson attack on the home of the president’s sister and the abduction of family members of MAS officeholders, Morales announced his resignation on the afternoon of Nov. 10 in a video posted online.
He went into exile in Mexico two days later.
Denouncing the October 20 balloting as fraudulent, Anez said Wednesday that it is up to lawmakers to name a new Supreme Electoral Tribunal to administer new elections.
“May God permit that we have transparent elections, may God enlighten the Legislative Assembly,” she said.
The man she named as justice minister, Alvaro Coimbra, said the first step must be annuling the Oct 20 vote – a maneuver that is not allowed under current Bolivian law.
MAS, who retained their congressional majority in last month’s poll, may well be reluctant to see the results overturned. Añez’s party, conversely, garnered only 4 per cent of the national vote.
The bill presented Wednesday includes “the possibility of shortening time-frames,” according to Coimbra, meaning that a new electoral tribunal could be appointed within weeks.
Setting the exact date for the vote will be a “technical question” for the tribunal, he said.
A number of Latin American governments and political leaders have joined Morales in denouncing the events of the last few weeks as a coup.
The United States and Brazil, among others, have recognized Anez as interim president, while many in the international community have limited their response to calling for dialogue while declining to take sides.
At least 30 people have died in the crisis and more than 700 others have been injured.
The vast majority of the fatalities – 27 – have occurred as the security forces repress protests against the self-proclaimed interim government.