DPA/ Mexico City
Bolivia’s ousted president Evo Morales, who is in exile in Mexico, said he has ruled out asking his supporters at home to demobilise to facilitate new elections until his and their security is guaranteed.
According to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, 23 people have been killed and more than 700 injured since riots erupted in Bolivia.
Morales supporters have clashed with security forces over what they consider a “coup d’etat” that led to his resignation on November 10.
“First this de facto government needs to give guarantees,” Morales said in an interview in Mexico City.
“Former ministers, lawmakers are being unfairly persecuted, threatened. Secondly, there needs to be a national and international commission to identify those intellectually and materially responsible for such a massacre.” The former president said that new elections should be called and that he is willing to not run as a candidate.
But he said a major roadblock to restoring “democracy” was Jeanine Anez, the lawmaker who has declared herself Bolivia’s interim president.
Morales called on her to resign in order to smooth the way toward elections.
Bolivia’s first indigenous president stepped down after the army called for him to do so following weeks of violent protests against alleged fraud in the October 20 elections, in which the leftist president claimed an outright victory over his centre-right challenger Carlos Mesa.
Morales, 60, said that new elections must be the result of a mediation process with all sectors of society and must go through the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, where his Movement to Socialism (MAS) party has a two-thirds majority.
“We are prepared to accept new elections based on the constitution. For the sake of life and of democracy, Evo is not participating if they don’t want him to participate,” Morales said.
“I don’t regret it,” Morales said of his decision to step down after 14 years in power, adding that he had to do it in order to protect his supporters.
Morales said that, for the time being, he was not nervous about being arrested should he return to Bolivia. “I have discussed with some lawyers what my situation is. Based on the constitution, they cannot arrest me, except if there is a trial for some reason and there is a sentence. Then they could arrest me.
“They could do it as part of a political row, but that would be illegal.”
He said his immediate goal was to help strengthen his movement, which made him popular with Bolivia’s workers and indigenous community, and turned him into a global left-wing icon.
In the future, however, he would also like to open a restaurant in his home region that serves South America’s tambaqui fish.
“I charge for the dish and, incidentally, for the photo I charge you,” he said.
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