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GREG WILPERT: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Greg Wilpert in Arlington, Virginia.
Bolivia's president Evo Morales has been forced from office and has been granted political asylum in Mexico. The events that let up to this happened in rapid succession over the weekend. On Sunday, the Organization of American States, the OAS, released a report about the October 20 presidential election in which it said that there were numerous irregularities and that the official result, which gave Morales a more than 10-point victory over this rival, could not be audited. The OAS thus recommended a new presidential election.
President Morales, who had previously promised to abide by the OAS report, announced the same day that the report came out that he would, indeed, call for a new election. However, Bolivia's top generals came out with a statement that day urging the president to resign. Here's what they said:
WILLIAMS KALIMAN: After analyzing the internal conflict situation, we ask the president of the state to renounce his presidential mandate, allowing for peace to be restored and the maintenance of stability for the good of Bolivia.
GREG WILPERT: Morales then said that his government was facing a coup d'e'tat.
EVO MORALES: I want to announce to the Bolivian people and the whole world that a coup d'e'tat is underwayas you know, brother journalists. A coup d'e'tat against a democratically elected government with more than 60 percent of the vote in the last elections; a coup d'e'tat by violent, anti-Democratic groups that don't respect democracy, the election results, or social peace.
GREG WILPERT: The following day though, after protests and clashes between the government supporters and opposition supporters, Morales decided to resign along with his vice-president, Alvaro Garcia Linera. Shortly thereafter, Morales tweeted that he was taking Mexico up on its offer for political asylum. Mexico's Foreign Minister shortly thereafter tweeted a photo of Morales draped in a Mexican flag on an airplane. Exactly what happens now is unclear. The vice-president of Bolivia's senate, Jeanine Áñez, who is a member of the opposition, has offered to become president. But the final decision rests with Bolivia's congress, which remains in the hands of Morales's political party, the Movement Toward Socialism.
Joining me now to analyze the current situation in Bolivia is Kathryn Ledebur. She is director of the Andean Information Network, and a researcher, activist, and analyst with over two decades of experience in Bolivia. Thanks for joining us again, Kathryn.
KATHRYN LEDEBUR: Thank you.
GREG WILPERT: So let's start with what's going on right now. Evo Morales, as far as we know, is in Mexico. What happens now? What's the latest? Have protests and violence in the streets died down yet? And will congress name an interim president until there is a new election within 90 days, as the constitution stipulates?
KATHRYN LEDEBUR: Well, there's a great deal of uncertainty. Yesterday was an extremely violent day. Yesterday evening, the Bolivian armed forces went out on the streets, something that they had not done during this conflict when Morales remained president. And almost as a direct result of that, we're seeing significant numbers of bullet wounds in conflicts; at least 12 bullet wounds in La Paz, multiple bullet wounds in Cochabamba; and an escalation of protests, both protests that, people that support Morales and noticeably attacking police stations, and rejection of the police mutiny that helped facilitate Morales's ouster, and a great deal of violence, conflict, and uncertainty.
We don't know what's going to happen in the congress. The opposition congressperson doesn't have any constitutional mandate to become interim president. There is no clear way out of this morass, and no diplomatic proposal from the opposition forces that led to Morales's ouster, which was and in fact as he had announced, a coup.
GREG WILPERT: Let's go a little bit over how Bolivia got here. Morales had agreed to new elections on Sunday, so why did he resign on Monday? Was it just the pressure from the military, or do you think there were other things going on, too?
KATHRYN LEDEBUR: I think there were many factors. And I think he resigned late afternoon on Sunday, and what happened in the interim is interesting to note and I think decisivemuch more decisive than the military's announcement. And that is, he agreed for new elections; he called for opposition leaders and congress members to dialogue about the best way to choose an electoral tribunal that would be balanced and competent in order to carry out this electoral process. And the opposition rejected any initiative for dialogue, any discussion, and began to push even harder for Morales's resignation.