Sun | Dec 15, 2019

Bolivia’s declared interim president faces challenges

Published:Wednesday | November 13, 2019 | 2:00 PM
Supporters of former President Evo Morales carry "wiphala" flags that represent indigenous peoples, as they march in La Paz, Bolivia, Tuesday, November 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — Bolivia’s newly declared interim president, until now a second-tier lawmaker, faces the challenge of winning recognition, stabilising the nation and organising national elections within three months at a time of bloody political disputes that pushed the nation’s first indigenous leader to fly off to self-exile in Mexico after 14 years in power.

Some people took to the streets cheering and waving national flags Tuesday night when Jeanine Añez, who had been second-vice president of the Senate, claimed the presidency after higher ranking successors to the had post resigned.

But furious supporters of the ousted Evo Morales responded by trying to force their way to the Congress building in La Paz yelling, “She must quit!”

The constitution gives an interim president 90 days to organise an election, and Añez’s still-disputed accession was an example of the problems she’ll face.

Morales’ backers, who hold a two-thirds majority in Congress, boycotted the session she had called to formalise her accession, preventing a quorum.

Frustrated in that effort, she took power in any case, with no one to swear her in, saying the constitution did not specifically require congressional approval.

“My commitment is to return democracy and tranquillity to the country,” she said.

“They can never again steal our vote.”

Bolivia’s top constitutional court issued a statement late Tuesday laying out the legal justification for Añez taking the presidency — without mentioning her by name.

But other legal experts challenged the legal technicalities that led to her claiming the presidency from such a relatively low-ranking post, saying at least some of the steps required Congress to meet.

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