Bolivia crisis: Coup d'etat or power vacuum?
By Laura Núñez Marín
Bolivians celebrate the resignation of President Evo Morales, in La Paz, Bolivia, 10 November 2019. Morales confirmed his resignation after almost 14 years in the position, through a video filmed at an undisclosed location and after most of his cabinet had already resigned. EFE/ Juan Carlos Torrejon
Bolivian President Evo Morales fives a statement in El Alto, Bolivia, 10 November 2019. Morales announced the call for new general elections, following the report of the Organization of American States (OAS) that recommends the repetition of the first round of the elections held on October 20. EFE/ Stringer
By Laura Núñez Marín
La Paz, Nov 11 (EFE).- Evo Morales' announcement to leave the presidency of Bolivia, according to him to stop the violent protests after 20 October elections, is far from a solution to the crisis in the country, which is now facing a power vacuum and allegations of a coup d'etat.
Here are six key facts that led to the situation:
PROTESTS AFTER ELECTIONS
On 20 October, presidential elections were held with Morales and former president and opponent Carlos Mesa as the main candidates.
These elections were questioned from the moment they were called in different political and social sectors that Morales had presented his candidacy for a fourth term.
That situation arose after a referendum on 21 February 2016, when more than half of the country voted against his possible re-election.
However, the constitutional court and supreme electoral tribunal endorsed the candidacy of the indigenous leader.
Morales was re-elected in fraudulent elections, which sparked a wave of protests that have left three dead and more than 300 injured.
After pressures in the country, the government asked the Organization of American States (OAS) for an audit of the elections.
In its report, the OAS noted it detected “very serious” irregularities and a “clear manipulation” in the transmission of data.
“The audit team cannot validate the results, so another electoral process is recommended,” the report said.
Without citing the report, Morales announced new elections with a new electoral body on Sunday.
REPLACE POLICE AND MILITARY
Since Friday, several police officers revolted in several cities in solidarity with the Bolivian people, but that exacerbated the crisis in the more than 13 years of Morales government.
On Sunday afternoon, commander in chief of the armed forces Williams Kaliman and Bolivian Police commander Yuri Calderon read separate statements the first suggesting and the second asking for Morales's resignation.
Police denied that there was an arrest warrant against the resigning president and clarified that it is the prosecutor's office and not police that issue arrest warrants.
Law enforcement officers have played a fundamental role in the crisis because of their peaceful actions and, together with the armed forces, they have not expressed any interest in power, nor acting on behalf of any of the political forces.
WAIVER OF MORALES
“There has been a civic, political and police coup,” the president denounced in his television message in which he announced his resignation.
In his letter delivered to parliament on Monday, Morales said his decision seeks to “avoid” violence and expressed his desire for the return of “social peace”.
The president also announced a chain of resignations of legislators, ministers and regional authorities of the official MAS party.
NOBODY ASSUMED POWER
Article 169 of the Bolivian constitution establishes the line of succession in the event of the resignation of the president, vice president, of the president of the senate until that of the lower house.
“In the latter case, new elections will be called within a maximum period of ninety days,” it states.
The Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), which has a majority in the assembly, was called to convene the corresponding sessions to analyze Morales’ resignation and appoint an interim president.
Who will be responsible for this is uncertain, since those who would also be renounced their positions.
The resignations were Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, President of the Senate Adriana Salvatierra and the President of Congress Victor Borda.
The line of succession would follow the senator of the opposition and second vice president of the senate of Bolivia Jeanine Añez.
ROLE OF THE OPPOSITION
Since the 2016 referendum, the opposition has considered the candidacy to be illegal, despite the constitutional and electoral court rulings, however, they participated in the 20 October elections, which they also criticized since they were called.
After the election results were announced, the opposition denounced them as fraud and demanded new elections and the resignation of Morales.
Former president Carlos Mesa called on MAS to facilitate the succession to Morales and said they could appoint a new president from the senate to interimly act as head of state and was emphatic that there is no coup d'etat.
Civic leader Luis Fernando Camacho called for the resignation of all high authorities to give way to a transitional government and calling for new elections.
Several analysts believe that it is not correct to speak of a civil or military coup d'etat, the current situation is very different from when in 2003 Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada and in 2005 Carlos Mesa resigned before the legislature to Morales’ position as a president besieged by protests.
Experts consider it a power vacuum because no one has yet taken the executive by force, the police and armed forces at the moment are outside the political decisions taken in the crisis.
But there are some that consider Morales was forced to leave the presidency, although after the OAS report on the elections, the president announced new elections with a new electoral body.