LA PAZ: Evo Morales has accepted an offer of political asylum in Mexico a day after resigning as president of Bolivia amid election fraud protests, reports BBC.
In a tweet, he said it hurt to be leaving Bolivia but he would return with more “strength and energy”.Mexico’s Foreign Minister, Marcelo Ebrard, confirmed Morales had boarded a Mexican government plane.
Meanwhile, Bolivia’s military commander ordered troops to back up police who have clashed with Morales supporters. Some 20 people were reported injured in the clashes.
Morales earlier urged his supporters to resist the “dark powers” that had forced him to step down. The deputy head of the Senate has said she will take over as interim president until new elections are held.
Morales, a former coca farmer, was first elected in 2006. He has won plaudits for fighting poverty and improving Bolivia’s economy but drew controversy by defying constitutional term limits to run for a fourth term in October’s election, which is alleged to have been rife with irregularities.
Ebrard announced the decision to grant Morales asylum at a press conference. Mexico has a left-leaning government and has supported Morales. Ebrard earlier described events in Bolivia as a “coup”, citing the military’s involvement in Morales’ resignation. Pressure had been growing on Morales since his narrow victory in last month’s presidential election.
On Sunday, events moved swiftly. First, the Organization of American States, a regional body, announced its audit of the election had found “clear manipulation” and called for the result to be annulled.In response, Morales agreed to hold fresh elections. But his main rival, Carlos Mesa - who came second in the vote - said Morales should not stand in any new vote. What really seemed to tip the balance was the intervention of the chief of the armed forces, General Williams Kaliman, who urged Morales to step down in the interests of peace and stability.