AFP/ La Paz
Luis Arce, the presidential candidate for Evo Morales’s Movement for Socialism party, returned to Bolivia yesterday following a self-imposed exile in Mexico.
Arce is due to stand for MAS in the May 3 election aiming to extend the socialist party’s hold on the presidency for a fourth term.
Morales was in power for almost 14 years before resigning on November 10 following three weeks of at times violent protests against his controversial re-election in an October poll.
An audit from the Organisation of American States found clear evidence of fraud.
After resigning, Morales fled into exile in Mexico before settling in neighbouring Argentina a month later.
He is barred from standing in the May election and an arrest warrant has been issued for him — the interim government accuses him of sedition and terrorism — but Morales has vowed to return to his homeland to lead the MAS campaign.
Arce, a former economy minister, arrived at the El Alto airport just outside La Paz, where he was met by his running mate, former foreign minister David Choquehuance, amid cheering supporters waving the “Wiphala” indigenous flag.
Morales, 60, was Bolivia’s first ever indigenous president and MAS derives much of its support from indigenous communities that were often marginalised under previous governments.
Arce, 56, left the airport without speaking to the press as his supporters chanted: “Arce, president,” and “Fight, friend, the people are with you.”
Arce is considered the brainchild behind Bolivia’s economic success under Morales but like many of his former colleagues has been accused of wrong-doing while in office.
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