• Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020
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Bolivia's dueling parties converge on new vote to calm political chaos

  • Published at 11:57 pm November 15th, 2019
Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez
Bolivia's interim President Jeanine Anez speaks to the media at the presidential palace in La Paz, Bolivia, November 15, 2019 Reuters

The aim was "to pacify our country and above all to defend democracy," said Mónica Eva Copa Murga, who had earlier been confirmed in her role

Bolivia's interim government and lawmakers from the party of unseated leftist leader Evo Morales appeared to have reach an accord late on Thursday to hold a new presidential election, potentially helping resolve country's political crisis.

Morales resigned under pressure on Sunday after weeks of protests and violence following an Oct. 20 election that awarded an outright win to him but was tarnished by widespread allegations of fraud.

In a late night Senate session, the chamber's president, a member of Morales' Movement for Socialism (MAS) party, said there was agreement between the opposition and government to hold a new election as soon as possible.

The aim was "to pacify our country and above all to defend democracy," said Mónica Eva Copa Murga, who had earlier been confirmed in her role.

She called on Bolivia's security forces, who have been involved in street skirmishes with pro-Morales supporters, to treat the country's indigenous groups with respect.

"Let's get rid of colors, of radical positions, what our country is looking for right now is peace," she said.

Morales, a charismatic leftist, had been in power since 2006 when he became the South American country's first indigenous president.

Interim President Jeanine Anez, who took over on Tuesday after a spate of resignations, had earlier indicated she wanted to mend bridges with Morales' party. She said, however, that Morales himself would not be welcome as a candidate.

Anez, 52, is trying to lead a sharply divided Bolivia that has been rocked by protests since last month's election.

Morales resigned after an Organization of American States audit found electoral irregularities and the military withdrew its backing and urged him to step down to help restore calm.

Morales and his vice president Alvaro Garcia, who also resigned, have been offered asylum by Mexico.

No fourth term

"Evo Morales does not qualify to run for a fourth term," Anez, a conservative former senator, told a news conference on Thursday, adding the country's "convulsions" were because he had run in defiance of term limits.

She said MAS, which has a majority in Congress, was welcome to participate in the vote and should start looking for a candidate.